The top-four teams locked down their positions, led by No. 1 Concordia (Calif.), in the fourth regular-season edition of the 2013 Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Top 25 poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Eagles gathered their ninth-straight top ranking after posting 653 total points and 22-of-23 first-place votes. Concordia is followed in the same order as last week's Top 25: No. 2 Texas at Brownsville, No. 3 Biola (Calif.), and No. 4 Madonna (Mich.).
Concordia is riding one of the NAIA's longest all-time win streaks, currently at 49-straight, as the squad heads into a Tuesday's Top 25 matchup against No. 20 Vanguard (Calif.). The Eagles are 11-0 on the season and have not lost since Dec. 3, 2011 in the NAIA National Championship final against Texas at Brownsville. The win streak is currently No. 4 in the NAIA record book.
Thirteen of 23 conferences are represented throughout the Top 25, led by the Golden State Athletic Conference with five ranked teams, Concordia, Biola, No. 10 Westmont, The Master's and No. 20 Vanguard. The Golden State Athletic Conference has now led all conferences each week with the most representatives -- four in the Preseason Top 25 and five each in Weeks One, Two, Three and Four. With the top ranking,Concordia (Calif.) pushes its all-time total to 12 No. 1 positions and is the fifth school (since 2000) to have double-digit totals. Concordia has the longest active streak in the Top 25 as it has been ranked for 90-straight polls, dating back to the start of the 2006 season. There has only been one program that has been able to maintain the No. 1 ranking for an entire season with Fresno Pacific accomplishing the feat in 2004, 2008 and 2009.
The No. 1 Eagles made it a round 50-straight wins on Tuesday night, October 1, with a comeback four-set win over #20 Vanguard inside Concordia Arena. Jessica Israel led the Eagles with 17 kills, hitting .289, and Madison Ekis added 17 herself. Jenee Henderson had 10 winners, hitting .259. Le Mi and Hannah Andrews each had seven kills from the middle. Vanguard dominated the net, eight blocks to two, but hit only .141, compared to .252 for Concordia.
"We took the opportunity to use the lost set as fuel," Concordia senior Kaitlyn Platt said. "There are going to be times when we don't play our best, but we can use that to get better."
The Eagles dropped their first GSAC-set in the first game, as Vanguard jumped to a 12-7 lead, including a run of three with Myranda Cunningham serving. Concordia fell down 16-10 before starting a comeback. Two kills from Israel made it 16-13, but Vanguard ran back ahead 20-15. The Eagles closed the gap, 21-18, on back-to-back kills from Israel and Jenee Henderson. An ace from Henderson made it 21-19, but Vanguard held the lead to win 25-22.
Concordia woke up for set two and took an early 10-7 lead on four kills from Israel. Vanguard fought back to tie the set at 14 and again at 15. Two Vanguard errors and kills from Henderson and Ekis saw Concordia surge ahead 19-15. They put together another four-point run on two Ekis kills and one slam from Israel to lead 24-16, and won 25-17.
In set three it was back-and-forth through the first eight points, but Concordia scored three-straight on a kill from Henderson and ace from Kara Vincitorio. The Eagles increased the lead to five on a kill from Israel, via Henderson. A block from Li Mi and Henderson, and a bad set from Vanguard made it 19-12. Vanguard scored three straight in response, but Concordia played sideout to the 25-19 win.
In set four Concordia caught its pace after an early 5-5 tie, as three Vanguard errors, a kill from Andrews, and ace from Elizabeth Younglove made it 9-5 Concordia. Concordia scored eight-straight with Taylor Dennison serving, fueled by kills from Ekis, Mi, and Henderson, all from Younglove. It was over from there as Concordia cruised to a 25-15 win.
"That Vanguard team wanted it more than us early, but it was nice to see our girls respond to adversity," head coach Trevor Johnson said. "We took care of our side. They had a great game plan, but we were able to make the adjustments."
With the win, Concordia extended its winning streak to 50 games and improved to 12-0, and 4-0 in the GSAC. Vanguard fell to 12-5 and 1-3 in conference play. Concordia stays at home and will host (RV) CSU San Marcos at 7 pm on Thursday, October 3. Watch the live stream at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/cui.portal#.