SIOUX CITY, IOWA – It was a night of extremes at Tyson Event Center on Wednesday evening as the 2013 NAIA National Volleyball Championships continued pool play.
Outside the event center, snow flurries dusted the streets and temperatures hovered around 15 degrees. Inside the arena, the story was different – as the red-hot Biola Eagles swept Dordt College and got a decisive victory, 25-9, 25-12 and 25-14.
Biola's success can be attributed to its attack percentage, a remarkable, near-perfect .520, helping Biola move to 24-3 on the season and 2-0 at the tournament. Dordt falls to 24-8 and 1-1 in pool play, having upset #10 Lindsey Wilson in five sets Tuesday night.
The Eagles struggled to find their rhythm at times during last night's four-set victory over Indiana Wesleyan, but from the start of Wednesday's match, Biola seemed determined to establish its superiority. Behind six-point serving runs by seniors Gracee Gallarda and Emily Weingartner, the Eagles jumped out to a 13-1 lead in set one and never looked back.
"We scouted Dordt well, and the girls executed our plan to perfection," said Head Coach Aaron Seltzer. "We had no outside hitting errors until the third set. We hit .520 as a team – that's unheard of at a National Championship. Tonight was about as flawless as we can play."
Seltzer's assessment was accurate – Biola made only four attack errors through the entire match. Junior Amy Weststeyn and sophomore Alyssa Mason bettered Tuesday night's strong performance by combining for 21 kills and just one error. They received strong support Joclyn Kirton (9 kills), Britta Blaser (6) and Chelsea Arnitz (5).
The first set's 13-1 start was slowed briefly by a 6-5 run by Dordt, but Biola quickly righted the ship and closed on three kills by Weststeyn and a monster slam by Kirton.
"Joclyn played well tonight," said Seltzer. The sophomore from Everett, Wash., had been fighting illness since arriving in Iowa, but looked stronger throughout Wednesday's match. Seltzer also pointed to the strong play of Blaser throughout the match.
Dordt made adjustments in the second set and kept things close for a time. The hitting of freshman Brooke Wolterstorff and senior Lindsey Floen brought the Defender crowd to life, limiting the Eagles to a 14-8 lead midway through. Dordt, however, had no answer to Biola's relentless attack, and the hitting of Weststeyn, Mason and Arnitz closed out the set for the Eagles, 25-12.
With set three tied at three a piece, four serving aces by Weststeyn helped give the Eagles a comfortable six-point lead. Highlighted by a backwards set by Gallarda that led to a crushing kill from Arnitz, that lead was soon expanded to 10 points before a late run by Dordt kept the score respectable. Crissy Cunningham, whose five digs on the night was second only to Tara Rallis's 10, served at match point and a Dordt error gave Biola the victory.
"Basically, the team got the jitters out last night. Many of our girls have been here several times, and that experience really makes a difference," concluded Seltzer.
The Eagles face Lindsey Wilson on Thursday night at 6:00 PST, hoping to close out pool play undefeated and earn a spot in Friday's quarterfinals.