By Nikki Sherrill, Communications and Sports Information Intern
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Schedule | Bracket) The Defenders of Dordt (Iowa) spoiled Columbia’s (Mo.) chance for a repeat in the 2016 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, presented by F&M Bank and Absolute Screen Art, as they completed a 3-1 bounce of the Cougars to advance to the national semifinals on Saturday.
Dordt dropped the first set but won the next three over the Cougars to advance to its first national semifinal since 2003 when it fell to eventual champion, Fresno Pacific (Calif.), 3-0. Brooke Granstra was the player of the game for Dordt as she reached 23 kills, just one-shy of her season-high. Granstra remains the leading hitter in the championship with a percentage of .433. The Defenders have never made it out of the semifinals, but will get another chance Saturday. For Columbia, the team was led by last season’s National Player of the Year in Peiyi Liu behind her 18 kills and seven digs. Columbia ends its season at 30-12.
A Great Plains Athletic Conference semifinal will start Saturday off as Midland (Neb.) won its first round match to meet up with conference foe, Dordt for a chance at the finals. Midland faced off with Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) who has not lost a match since it dropped a conference contest to Georgetown (Ky.) back on September 22. Midland, much like Dordt, let the first set slip away, but crawled back to get the match, 3-1 over the Blue Raiders. The Warriors were led by KC Heimann with 16 kills, 14 digs and five blocks. On the season, the Warriors and Defenders split their meetings. Midland bounced Dordt in the GPAC semifinals, and eventually lost to Hastings (Neb.).
The other side of the bracket paved the way for the GPAC to have three teams in the semifinals, with Hastings pairing up with Eastern Oregon. The Mountaineers have won all of their matches so far this championship in sweeps. Tonight, however, the Broncos turned the tables on Eastern Oregon and completed a sweep of their own to advance to their first national semifinal since 1999 when they lost to Fresno Pacific (Calif.). Led by Sage Meyer who recorded 11 kills and 12 digs, the Broncos will continue play Saturday.
The only non-GPAC team that qualified for the national semifinals is Park (Mo.), who walked away with a 3-1 win over No. 1 Westmont (Calif.) to advance to its first semifinal in two seasons. Park, the 2014 national champion, has been riding the incredible play of the 2014 National Player of the Year, Wendy Romero. This match, Romero ended with 22 kills and 12 digs and has had a double-double in every match in Sioux City this year.
Both semifinal matches are slated for their first-serve Saturday at 11 a.m. CST.
The NAIA Network – the association’s official video streaming home – will broadcast all 63 matches (including 48 pool-play matches) live at the 2016 NAIA Volleyball National Championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access to live video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single day passes can be purchased for $9.95, and an all-championship package is available at $39.95. For more information and the pre-register, click here.
For more information on the NAIA Volleyball National Championship, click here.