With a 4-0 start to the year, defending national champion and top-ranked Concordia (Calif.) is riding a 42-match win streak dating back to last year. The Eagles play host to Cornerstone (Mich.), No. 25 Carroll (Mont.) and Westminster (Utah) in the Asics/Wyndham Labor Day Classic this weekend.
The first regular-season Coaches' Top 25 Poll will be announced Sept. 10. In the Preseason Top 25 (Aug. 20), Concordia (Calif.) earned 21-of-22 first-place votes to secure the No. 1 position. National runner-up Columbia (Mo.) landed the second spot, followed by No. 3 Texas at Brownsville, No. 4 Biola (Calif.) and No. 5 Oklahoma Baptist. For the complete poll, click here.
In the Eagles home opener they downed Cornerstone (MI) 3-0 in straight sets. Jessica Israel led with 11 kills and Briana Hughes added seven kills in 11 attempts. Outside hitters Ellie Ladensack and Madison Ekis had nine and eight kills, respectively. Ekis added five blocks and Hughes had four rejections, as the Eagles out-blocked the Golden Eagles 10-9. Concordia hit .206, while holding Cornerstone to .020.
The teams raced to a six-six tie early in set one, but CUI scored six straight on multiple Ekis kills and numerous Cornerstone errors. An ace from Taylor Dennison and block from Hughes and Ladensack made it 14-6 Eagles. Cornerstone fought back to 17-13, but kills from Dennison and Israel helped push it back to 21-14, before ending 25-19.
In game two, Concordia took a 10-7 lead on a kill and block from Hughes, and ace from Dennison. Cornerstone pulled back at 10-9 and hung within one until a kill from Israel, kill from Ladensack, and ace from Ladensack put Concordia up 17-13. Concordia stumbled a bit late, but ended it 25-21.
Kills from Ekis, Ladensack, and Hughes put Concordia up 11-6 in set three. Four straight errors from Cornerstone saw the count sit at 16-8. Back-to-back kills from Israel fueled a Concordia run that made it 21-10. The Eagles played sideout volleyball to the finish, winning 25-16.
In the second match of the day Concordia blew through #25 Carroll College of Helena, MT, 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-15).
Ekis led with 16 kills, hitting a scorching .440 and Israel was right there in step, hitting .565 with 15 winners. Jenee Henderson served up 37 assists and Concordia hit .379, compared to .060 for the Saints. Hughes swatted three blocks and had six kills in support. With the win the Eagles have now won 44-straight matches dating back to last year.
The Eagles will close the 24th Annual ASICS/Wyndham Hotel Labor Day Classic with a 7 pm match tomorrow night against Westminster (UT). Watch the live stream at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/cui.portal#.
Recently three-time Heather Bown has been practicing and teaching the Concordia volleyball team. The middle blocker represented her native country at the 2008 Summer Olympics (Silver) in Beijing, China and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. There she finished in fifth place with the USA national team. She also competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia (Fourth).
She finished her career at the University of Hawaiʻi in 1998 where she was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association First Team All-American and was the 1998 and 1999 WAC Player of the Year. In 1998, she ranked first in the WAC in hitting percentage (.389) and blocking (1.69) and led the team in kills in 24 matches. She had a career-high 30 kills vs. BYU-Hawaii. As a senior in 1999, she repeated as the WAC Player of the Year and repeated as an AVCA First Team All-American. In 1999, she led the nation with 2.25 block per game and posted 411 kills, 230 blocks and a .364 hitting percentage for the year.