SIOUX CITY, IA. Defending National Champion Concordia opened pool play today in the 2013 NAIA National Championship against (RV) Trinity Christian (Ill.). The Eagles earned their ninth NAIA Championship berth with their third-consecutive GSAC Regular-Season Championship as they triumphed over #3 Biola in La Mirada, CA, on November 6.
In the first set, the Eagles traded side-outs with the Trolls of Trinity Chrisitian as the Eagles led 8-7 after 15 rallies. The Eagles broke it open with a kill from Maddy Ekis to start an eight-point run and take a 16-7 advantage. Le Mi and Jessica Israel added kills of their own while Ekis contributed another during the run. The Eagles never let up and took the first set 25-11.
(Schedule) (Live Streaming) The 34th edition of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Volleyball National Championship final site, presented by J&L Enterprises and CNOS Foundation will welcomed 24 teams to the Tyson Events Center from Dec. 3 - 7. The City of Sioux City, Iowa, is hosting for the sixth-straight time. There are six pools with four teams each with each squad playing three matches from Tuesday through Thursday. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination bracket starting on Friday. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. with the championship finals match to follow at 7 p.m.
The 24-team field is comprised of the 12 National Championship Opening Round winners decided on Nov. 23, the top 11 teams ranked in the final NAIA Volleyball Coaches' Top 25 Poll released on Nov. 17, and the final site host team, Briar Cliff (Iowa).
Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.), along with Biola (Calif.), Briar Cliff, Columbia (Mo.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Madonna (Mich.), MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), Midland (Neb.), Northwestern (Iowa), Oklahoma Baptist, Texas at Brownsville and Vanguard (Calif.) all earned Opening Round byes.
Concordia (23-2), champions of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC), is making its eighth-straight National Championship and ninth overall. Since 2006, the Eagles are 20-1 in pool play action and they have advanced out of pool play in seven of the past eight years. Concordia is trying to become the sixth different team to win back-to-back titles. The Eagles are matched up in Pool B with Georgetown, Park and Trinity Christian. The GSAC, with Biola, Concordia, The Master's, Vanguard and Westmont sends the most conference schools with five.
In the second set the Eagles fell into a hole early, 1-4, before climbing back and tying the set 4-4 with kills from Israel and Reanna Schelhaas. The Trolls rolled out to another lead, taking an 8-14 advantage over the Eagles before kills from Le Mi, Israel, and Kyleen Iverson brought the Eagles within one, 14-15. Kills from Ekis and Israel and a service ace from Jenee Henderson made it 18-19, and costly errors from the Trolls gave the Eagles their first lead of the set, 22-20. The Eagles went on to win the set 26-24.
The third set was all Eagles early on as they jumped out to an early 8-4 advantage with kills from Israel, Ekis and Le Mi. The Trolls fell silent as the Eagles took 15-5 advantage with another Henderson ace and kills from Iverson and Henderson. The Eagles' lead of ten held for one more rally before the Trolls came storming back to challenge the Eagles with a run of their own, making it 23-19 and refusing to go quietly. The Eagles snuffed the Trolls' rally and took the set 25-21 on a kill from Israel to take the match, 3-0.
The Eagles were led by Jessica Israel, who tallied 16 kills and hit .484 while also contributing three digs and a block assist. Le Mi hit .750 and tallied 13 kills with a solo block and a block assist. Reanna Schelhaas and Maddy Ekis each had eight kills, and Schelhaas also contributed a solo block and three block assists. Setters Elizabeth Younglove and Jenee Henderson tallied 23 and 16 assists, respectively, and Henderson added two aces.
Head coach Trevor Johnson was proud of Jessica Israel and his middle blockers' play, saying, "Jessica and Le Mi played great. Kara Vincitorio was solid with passing and defense and covers. Our setters Jenee and Liz did a nice job of running our middles. It wasn't our prettiest win but we'll take it."
The Eagles move on to play Park (Mo.) next in pool play on December 4 at 1 pm.
For the first time ever, all pool play matches from Dec. 3 - 5, in addition to bracket play through the championship final Dec. 7 will be streamed live. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament pass is available for $24.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.