Concordia punched their automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship with a 3-2 win over Biola in La Mirada, CA on Saturday night, November 16. With the win, No. 2 Concordia clinched their third-straight GSAC Championship and third in program history, along with beating No. 3 Biola for the seventh-straight time.
"Tonight was a great environment for any team to play in," Concordia head coach Trevor Johnson said. "We just battled every step of the way and were relentless in everything we did. The seniors finished strong with another GSAC Championship."
Le Mi led Concordia on this night, with 17 kills, hitting .536. Jessica Israel added 13 kills, hitting .545 from the outside, and backing up coach Johnson's pregame comments that she needed to have a big game for Concordia to win. Reanna Schelhaas had 11 kills and four block assists and Alex Bozoian came off the bench to collect 10 kills, hitting .381. Israel added three block assists and Mi, Ekis, and Bozoian each had two. Elizabeth Younglove had three aces and 32 assists. Concordia hit .278 and Biola hit .213.
Concordia scored three straight in set one to take an 11-8 lead, as Hannah Andrews picked up back-to-back kills. Concordia held that edge and took control with the score 15-13. They scored eight of the next 11 to lead 23-16 and seize the set. Over that stretch Schelhaas picked up a block and a kill, and Israel and Mi added kills. Concordia went to the finish with that advantage, winning 25-18.
It was Biola who dominated set two early, jumping to a 10-4 lead. Concordia responded with a 9-3 run with kills from Bozoian, Andrews, and Mi to tie the set at 13. The teams battled to a tie at 18, but Biola scored five straight to take control and win 25-19.
The teams flipped the script right back and Concordia led 10-5 in set three. Schelhaas and Bozoian started with kills, and Taylor Dennison and Younglove picked up aces. A block from Israel and Schelhaas, and a Biola error, made it 16-9 visiting Eagles. Biola came storming back and closed to 18-20. Mi picked up back-to-back kills to put Concordia back up four. Concordia finished the match 25-20.
The fourth set switched back again and saw Biola grab the 13-6 lead. Kills from Bozoian, Mi, and Schelhaas, and aces from Younglove helped Concordia slowly crawl back and tie the match at 18. A Biola error and ace from Jenee Henderson put Concordia in the lead, 20-18. Biola was not done and came storming back for a 22-21 edge. It was sideout until Biola scored two straight to win 25-22.
Lucky for the Concordia faithful, Concordia kept the back and forth trend going in set five. With the visiting Eagles leading 5-3, Concordia scored five-of-the-next seven points. Ekis and Schelhaas combined on a block and two plays later it was Bozoian and Schelhaas on a block. Mi and Israel slammed kills and Younglove served another ace. It was over from there as Biola made three straight errors and Israel ended the match with two kills, 15-6.
"We needed to keep serving tough to hold their middles down and did that especially well in the fifth set," Johnson said. "This GSAC Championship means a lot to this team. I'm happy we were not complacent this conference season. I feel good about our team as we head to Iowa."
The final Coaches' Top 25 Poll will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. CST, along with the 36 qualifiers in the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round. The 24-team Opening Round pairings will be announced on Monday, Nov. 18 at Noon CST via a live graphical show on www.NAIA.org. The top 11 seeds amongst the 36 qualifiers earn a bye and move on to play in the National Championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa.
Concordia will receive an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship, and will receive the bye past the Opening Round games and head straight to Sioux City, IA. Concordia wraps their regular season at 23-2 and 13-1 in the GSAC.
NAIA National Championship Live Video-Streaming Schedule via NeuLion – (subject to change)
• Volleyball National Championship: Dec. 3 – 7 (47 matches)