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Volleyball - Wed, Nov. 28, 2012

The No. 1 seeded Concordia Eagles moved to 34-0 on Wednesday, November 28, as they defeated Georgetown (Ky.) in the second day of pool play in the 2012 NAIA Volleyball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.  Both teams were victorious in day one of pool play yesterday.

The Concordia attack was balanced once again.  Madison Ekis led with 10 kills and four blocks, while hitting .333.  Fei Gao, Le Mi, and Jessica Israel all had seven winners.  Israel hit .455 and Mi hit .636.  Mi also had four blocks.  Reanna Schelhaas had six kills and five blocks.  Briana Hughes had four rejections and Jenee Henderson led with 17 assists.  Concordia won the blocking battle handily, 11-3.  Concordia hit .352 on the match, compared to 0.038 for GC.

Concordia, the No. 1 team and only undefeated team in the country earned an automatic bid to the 2012 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, marking the eighth trip and seventh straight in school history.  Concordia owns a record of 31-9 at the tournament and finished Runner-Up last season.  They entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive season.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has released the pool assignments and schedule for the 2012 NAIA Volleyball National Championship final site presented by CNOS Foundation. Twelve National Championship Opening Round winners met up with 12 teams with byes and invaded the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena in Sioux City, Iowa, from Nov. 27 - Dec. 1.

Pool Play Bracket - Championship

Concordia imposed their will early in the first set, starting on an 11-1 run.  A block from Mi and Schelhaas started things, and then Schelhaas drove two straight from Jenee Henderson into the hardwood.  Ekis, Mi, and Gao had kills, and Ekis, Mi, and Schelhaas combined on a block.  A Henderson ace and another Mi and Schelhaas block forced the early GC timeout.  The Tigers got within 18-6, but Concordia finished on a 7-5 run to win 25-11.  Kills from Schelhaas and Jessica Israel, plus many GC errors, paced the finish.  Concordia hit a scorching .487 in the first set, while the Tigers hit -.094.

"We were extremely balanced again," Concordia head coach Dan Fisher said.  "That seems to be our formula for success at this point in the season."

Concordia went up 4-1 early in the second game, led by a Mi kill and multiple Georgetown errors.  The Tigers got within 6-4, but Concordia came back with four of the next six points, until GC pulled within 11-8.  A Gao kill finished a long rally to put Concordia up 16-10.  Concordia held that lead for the remainder of the set, winning 25-19.  Ekis led the way with two kills over the finishing span.  The Eagles hit .357 in the set, compared to .086 for GC.

The Tigers took an early 3-2 lead over Concordia in the third game.  Concordia scored six of the next seven to go up 8-4.  Schelhaas, Ekis, and Briana Hughes all had winners.  GC came back to tie the game at 11, and again at 12.  The Tigers took a 13-12 lead, before Concordia tied it at 13 after a GC attack error capped a long rally.  Concordia went up 14-13 and never lost the lead again.  A block from Hughes put Concordia up 19-14.  With the score 19-15, Concordia finished with six straight points in a flurry to win 25-19.  Kills from Ekis, Gao, and Israel finished off the match.  Concordia hit .275 in the final set, while GC hit .103. 

Concordia improved to a still perfect 34-0.  Georgetown fell to 34-5 and 1-1 in pool play.

"Georgetown is a good passing team, and I thought we did a nice job keeping them off balance with our serves," Fisher said.  "We were also very poised in the long rallies."

The No. 1 seeded Eagles are joined in their pool by host Morningside (Iowa), No. 13 Georgetown (Ky.), and No. 12 Indiana East.  With a record of 44-3, Indiana East carries the most wins in the NAIA.

The No. 1 Eagles (34-0) continue pool play tomorrow at 6:00 pm PST against No. 12 Indiana East inside the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena in Sioux City, Iowa.   

The video stream of the game can be viewed at http://www.ihigh.com/iueredwolves/.

Concordia, Biola, and Westmont all won on Wednesday.  The Master's was still in action at press time.

Top-ranked Concordia (Calif.), who won the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) regular-season championship for the second time in school history, headlines Pool A. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the field and are on an NAIA best 34 match-winning streak. The 2012 GSAC Player of the Year Brooke Marino is currently injured for the Eagles, who are making their eighth-straight trip to the National Championship. The highest-ranked challenger to Concordia within Pool A is No. 12 Indiana East. The Red Wolves will count on senior setter Lauren Crump, who was the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

There are six pools with four teams in each pool and they all started action on Nov. 27. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination bracket starting Nov. 30. The championship match will take place on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. CST.

Live Stats

NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all single elimination matches of the 2012 Volleyball National Championship. The single-elimination matches' start at 10 a.m. CST on Nov. 30 will be streamed and coverage will continue through the championship match on 8 p.m. CST on Dec. 1. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

NOTE:

The 2012 AVCA NAIA ALL-REGION TEAMS & COACHES were released Wednesday afternoon.  Madison Ekis, Reanna Schelhaas, Brooke Marino, and Le Mi were all selected to the Southwest Region First Team to match their previous All-GSAC honors.  Marino was voted the Player of the Year in the region for the second straight year.  Marino has been selected to the region team all four years at Concordia.