The No. 2 Concordia Eagles handled their business quickly against No. 4 Madonna (MI) 3-0 in the NAIA National Championship Quarterfinals on Friday night, December 5, inside the Tyson Events Center. Jessica Israel led the way with an outstanding match, drilling 18 kills with only one error, hitting .630. She added two digs and two block assists. Madison Ekis had 13 kills, hitting .280, with three digs. Reanna Schelhaas continued her hot play with eight kills, hitting .400, with two block assists. Kara Vincitorio and Ekis each tallied two aces each. Concordia was out-blocked 6-4, but hit .467, compared to .105 for Madonna. Elizabeth Younglove had 25 assists to go with 10 digs. The Eagles will advance to their third-straight semifinal appearance and eighth overall. The Eagles have advanced to the National Championship four times (2004, 2008, 2011, 2012).
On a familiar stage, it took 12 points for Concordia to get comfortable, but after briefly trailing, Concordia tied it at six and pulled ahead 12-8 on a block from Iverson and Schelhaas, and kills from Schelhaas, Iverson, and Mi. They extended it to 14-8 on a block from Israel and Mi, and a kill from Israel. A kill from Ekis made it 18-11 and Alex Bozoian and Ekis hit back-to-back kills to make it 21-12. An ace from Kara Vincitorio and kill from Iverson ended the set 25-13.
In game two, Concordia scored the first four points on two Ekis kills and one from Iverson, with two assists from libero Kara Vincitorio. It became 8-1 after an ace from Jordan Smith. The Crusaders closed the gap, 11-6, but Concordia scored four of the next five on two kills from Mi and a block from Israel and Mi. Concordia made it 18-8 as Younglove fed Ekis and Israel for two kills. The Eagles finished with three straight on an ace from Henderson, Madonna error, and block from Schelhaas and Ekis.
In set three, Concordia trailed early 4-6, but back-to-back kills from Schelhaas tied the set at six. Concordia pulled ahead 11-7 as Iverson picked up two kills and Schelhaas added one. They increased the advantage to 15-9 on two Israel kills, both assisted by Younglove. Vincitorio set Ekis on the back line to make it 18-11. Alex Bozoian sandwiched two kills around and Ekis winner to make it 21-12 Concordia, and Concordia scored the final four points on two Ekis kills, an ace from Vincitorio, and a kill from Iverson to win 25-13.
"I think we played well tonight and executed well as a team," Concordia senior Elizabeth Younglove said.
"Moving onto the semifinals again, in our senior year, gives us the chills," Concordia senior Madison Ekis said.
Concordia moved to 2-0 all-time against the Crusaders from Michigan and Madonna ends their season at 41-2. Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.) (27-2), along with Biola (Calif.) remain from the GSAC in the semifinals. They will meet in the NAIA Semifinals for the second-straight year. Concordia won last year 3-1 on the way to their first NAIA National Championship and have beaten the Eagles of La Mirada seven straight times, including twice this season. Biola is advancing to the semis for the seventh time, and are 1-5 all-time.
"Our team came out and executed the game plan to a T and it was nice to see us play a full match," Concordia head coach Trevor Johnsons said. "It's always tough to beat a team three times in a year and these are two high quality teams. For some reason we always seem to find each other here at nationals, but I know it will be a battle."
Texas at Brownsville (2011) and Concordia (2012) have each won one previous national title. Wayland Baptist is competing in its first-ever semifinal and Biola holds a 1-5 all-time semifinal record with the only win in 1985.
(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. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. with the championship finals match to follow at 7 p.m. Top seed Texas at Brownsville, No. 2 Concordia (Calif.), No. 3 Biola (Calif.) and No. 5 Wayland Baptist (Texas) will play off in the 34th annual round of four on Saturday from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Defending national champion and No. 2 seed Concordia is trying to become the first team since former member Fresno Pacific (Calif.) in 2010 and 2011 to repeat as titlists.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming partner, will be broadcasting all 47 matches of the National Championship. 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.