The No. 2 Concordia Eagles kept moving in Pool Play on Wednesday afternoon, December 4, in a 3-1 win over No. 13 Park (MO) in Pool B action.
Madison Ekis racked up 14 kills, hitting .243, to go with 10 digs and four blocks. Kyleen Iverson stepped up huge with 13 kills, hitting .290, with three blocks. Jessica Israel was the third Eagle in double-figure kills with 10, to go with seven digs. Reanna Schelhaas had eight kills in the middle, hitting .375. Elizabeth Younglove dished out 23 assists to go with 14 digs. Concordia hit .218, compared to .101 for Park. The teams were even at the net with 10 blocks each.
(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 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 22-1 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.
Wednesday's match featured a rematch of the 2013 NAIA Men's Volleyball National Championship, won by Concordia 3-0, and both matches featured the same head coaches. Concordia's Trevor Johnson and Park's Mike Talamantes.
Concordia trailed early 4-1 in set one, but came back to tie at eight on two Park errors. A block by Iverson and Le Mi gave Concordia a lead and they rattled off five straight after that on kills from Iverson and Israel, and a block from Mi and Iverson to lead 14-9. A run of four immediately following with two kills from Israel and two from Ekis saw CU go up 18-10. Park made a couple errors and two late kills from Ekis gave Concordia a comfortable 25-12 win.
Set two was close early, but Park went ahead again with a 7-4 edge. Concordia held that gap, but couldn't close it trailing 19-13 as the set went on. Park was never threatened and won 25-18.
Concordia trailed 5-6 in set three, but scored four straight on kills from Iverson and Alex Bozoian, coupled with two Park errors to lead 9-6. Park came back to tie the game at 10 and again at 11. The Eagles scored four straight again on kills from Israel and two Park errors. Park got it down to three, 18-15, but Concordia finished them with eight straight points. Jenee Henderson, Bozoian, and Mi all picked up kills, and Iverson, Mi, and Bozoian sent balls back to lead 23-15. Concordia finished the set 25-17.
Concordia jumped ahead 7-2 in game four, led by back-to-back blocks from Ekis and Mi. Park came storming back and led 13-12. The teams traded points back and forth until a tie at 22. Schelhaas picked up an assist from Israel, Park committed an attack error, and Ekis and Israel combined on a block to win 25-22.
"It was a good win for us against an unconventional team," Concordia head coach Trevor Johnson said. "Their setter did a nice job of setting hittable balls from all over the court. We made some adjustments that slowed her down. Kyleen Iverson played great and was steady the whole match. Reanna Schelhaas did a nice job in the middle. We survived and advanced."
Next up for Concordia is their final pool play match, tomorrow, at 1:15 pm against No. 12 Georgetown.
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.