No. 9 Biola (Calif.) moved to 3-0 in Pool D after a stunning comeback win over No. 4 Embry-Riddle (Fla.), who fell to 2-1 in pool play. Biola fought back from an 0-2 deficit, taking the final three sets and the match, 17-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 17-15. Amy Weststeyn, Sarah McAtee and Nicolette Mather all reached double-figures in kills for the victorious Eagles, who finished with the top record out of Pool D. Weststeyn, who hit .484 for the match, struck for the match-point kill that ignited an uproar from the Biola bench after the National Championship’s most significant upset.
Pool B pitted NAIA powerhouse Fresno Pacific (Calif.) against head coach Todd Lowery and No. 2 Texas at Brownsville on Thursday. The Scorpions, who have been eliminated by the Sunbirds in each of their last three National Championship appearances, claimed Pool B by cruising past No. 11 Fresno Pacific, 25-22, 25-19, 25-14. The Sunbirds suffered their first loss in National Championship play since being upset by Morningside (Iowa) in pool play in 2008. The Scorpions’ were led by Danica Markovic who recorded eight kills and a .381 hitting percentage to help Texas at Brownsville post a smoldering .341 team hitting percentage.
Top-ranked Concordia (Calif.) kept on rolling as it won its 34th-consecutive match. The Eagles capped Pool A action with a 25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19 victory over No. 12 College of Idaho to finish pool play at 3-0. Concordia, who will begin Friday’s bracket play as the No. 1 seed, got 19 kills from sophomore Maddy Ekis and 18 from junior Brooke Marino. The Eagles will take on the winner of Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at 5:45 p.m. CST on Friday.
No. 3 Lee (Tenn.) was pushed to five sets once again, this time prevailing over No. 10 Southern Oregon, 27-29, 25-16, 25-16, 17-25, 15-9. The Lady Flames boosted their record to 3-0 in pool play, powered by senior Arlene Ferreira’s 22 kills and 19 digs. Both squads advanced to single-elimination play with Southern Oregon finishing at 2-1 in Pool C.
Biola’s upset of Embry-Riddle opened the door for No. 5 Columbia (Mo.) to grab a first-round bye in the single-elimination bracket. The Cougars went unbeaten in Pool E, concluding pool play with a 26-24, 26-28, 25-19, 25-22 victory over No. 8 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). Four Columbia players – Paula Ferreira (11), Vesna Trivunovic (11), Kelly Corkum (10) and Ola Shawky (10) – posted double-figure kill totals.
No. 7 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) blew past No. 6 Azusa Pacific, 25-20, 25-15, 25-23, in a surprisingly quick match between 2-0 teams in Pool F. The Battlin’ Bears used 17 kills by their top player in senior outside hitter Sara Brunner. Brunner also hit .371 in a sharp performance by Rocky Mountain. As a team, the Battlin’ Bears out-hit the Cougars, .340 to .129. Rocky Mountain garnered the No. 5 seed in bracket play and draws 12th-seeded College of Idaho in a first-round single-elimination match on Friday.
Concordia, Texas at Brownsville, Lee and Columbia all received byes to Friday’s quarterfinal rounds, which get started at 5:45 p.m. CST. They will await the winners of the four first-round matches that begin Friday morning.
There were also six contests on Thursday that matched teams with 0-2 pool play records. Indiana Wesleyan, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), Spring Hill (Ala.), Taylor (Ind.) and Vanguard (Calif.) all collected their first pool play victories on Day 3. Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Grand View (Iowa), Indiana Tech, Kansas Wesleyan, Missouri Baptist and Morningside (Iowa) each fell to 0-3. All 12 of these teams have been eliminated from the National Championship.
The Golden State Athletic Conference, which advanced the most teams to the final site with six, finished pool play with a record of 12-6. At 5-1 in pool play, the Frontier Conference posted the best win percentage among leagues with at least two member representatives. The Cascade Collegiate Conference went 4-2 in the event’s first three days.
The National Championship resumes on Friday at 10 a.m. CST at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, as first-round single-elimination action ensues. Two quarterfinal matches apiece will take place at the 5:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. time slots on Friday. Semifinal and championship matches will be held on Saturday.
Pool Play - Day 3
Box Score - Spring Hill (Ala.) vs. Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Box Score - Indiana Wesleyan vs. Kansas Wesleyan
Box Score - Indiana Tech vs. Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Box Score - Columbia (Mo.) vs. Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
Box Score - Concordia (Calif.) vs. College of Idaho
Box Score - Embry-Riddle (Fla.) vs. Biola (Calif.)
Box Score - Azusa Pacific (Calif.) vs. Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
Box Score - Texas at Brownsville vs. Fresno Pacific (Calif.)
Box Score - Lee (Tenn.) vs. Southern Oregon
Box Score - Vanguard (Calif.) vs. Morningside (Iowa)
Box Score - Taylor (Ind.) vs. Grand View (Iowa)
Box Score - Missouri Baptist vs. MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)