By Nikki Sherrill, Communications and Sports Information Intern
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Results | Bracket) Behind a record-setting crowd of over 1,200 fans, two tickets were punched to the 2016 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, presented by F&M Bank and Absolute Screen Art. With the semifinals featuring three Great Plains Athletic Conference teams, the finals were guaranteed at least one of those programs to advance to Saturday night.
The national championship match, which will be broadcast on ESPN3 for the third time in NAIA Volleyball history, is slated for a 7 p.m. CST first-serve. To watch live, click here. The championship will pit two GPAC squads against each other as the Defenders of Dordt (Iowa) takes on the Broncos of Hastings (Neb.). This is the second-straight championship where two programs from the same conference will square-off (Columbia def. Missouri Baptist in 2015).
Dordt matched-up with GPAC rival, Midland (Neb.) in the first semifinal. The two met twice this season and each had one win against the other heading into the morning. The Defenders stepped onto the court looking to avenge a GPAC semifinal loss to the Warriors, and were able to get the sweep over Midland to advance to the 7 p.m. final match.
Dordt outplayed Midland in nearly every statistical category on the morning, hitting .314 percent, recording 44 kills and 12.5 team blocks. Senior Brooke Granstra, who has proved to be the leader of her team and is making her name heard in the National Player of the Year contest, tallied 16 kills, seven digs and seven blocks to help advance the Defenders.
With the loss, Midland ends its season at 31-4.
The Defenders will see a familiar face in the national championship match as Hastings pulled away with a 3-1 victory over Park (Mo.). The Broncos stole set one and dropped set two to the Pirates, however Hastings came back to take the next two to seal its spot in its first national finals against Dordt. Sage Meyer led the Broncos with 16 kills, 16 digs and four blocks to go with the team’s .225 attack percentage. Park was once again led by the strong play of Wendy Romero who recorded yet another double-double with 26 kills and 16 digs.
The Pirates completed its 2016 campaign with a 36-4 record and falls to 1-1 in semifinal matches.
Tonight’s national championship will be the third time the Broncos and Defenders have met this season, splitting the previous contests. The two players to watch tonight will be senior Logan Drueppel from Hastings who is averaging 2.2 blocks per set this championship, and Brooke Granstra of Dordt who leads the championship in hitting percentage (.444).
For more information on the NAIA Volleyball National Championship, click here.