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DENVER - No. 2 Concordia (Calif.) battled #1 Park (Mo.) in the NAIA National Invitational National Championship Saturday night, April 20, on the campus of Johnson and Wales (Colo.). The Eagles maintained a perfect weekend, not losing a single set, defeating Park 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 29-27) to claim the first NAIA title in program history and sixth NAIA title as a school.
An impressive accomplishment for the Eagles in its first season playing NAIA men's volleyball in program history. CUI also captured the NAIA Volleyball championship sweep, as its women's volleyball team won the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship over Columbia College (Mo.) back on Dec. 1, 2012 in Sioux City, Iowa.
"Everyone on our team played great, we knew what we came here to do, and we took care of business," Tournament MVP Dillon Auxier said.
Concordia did not lose a set all weekend and finished the season 25-7 in the first year in existence. Tournament MVP Dillon Auxier had 15 kills, hitting .367, and All-Tournament selection and Hitting Percentage leader Naseri Tumanuvao had 17 kills, hitting .344. Parker Del Re added eight kills and Mark Metrakos had six winners and six blocks. Each team recorded six blocks, and CU hit .343, compared to .233 for PU. Kevin Fiske ran the offense with 44 assists.
"Our hitters were awesome tonight and I just threw it up there for them," Concordia setter Kevin Fiske said.
CU took an early 2-1 lead in set one before Park tied the game at three. A kill from Auxier made it 4-3, but PU fought back and took the 7-5 lead. Concordia scored five of the next six and led 10-8 on two kills from Parker Del Re. A kill from Tumanuvao extended the lead to 13-10. Concordia held serve and another Tumanuvao spike set it to 18-14. A kill from Auxier set the lead to five, 24-19. Park pulled within two at 24-22, but coach Trevor Johnson used a timeout and Auxier came out and ended it 25-22 on a kill.
"It was a total team effort, everyone knew their job, and filled their role, with a lot of guys stepping up," outside hitter Parker Del Re said. "Our coaches are amazing."
Concordia came out scorching hot in set two, taking a 3-0 lead as Del Re and Tumanuvao got kills. Tumanuvao and Auxier spiked kills, and Del Re, Mark Metrakos, and Kevin Fiske combined on back-to-back blocks to make it 7-2 Eagles. Concordia held that advantage and a Metrakos kill made it 14-10. Park came storming back and got within two, 18-16, and then one, 20-19. The teams went back and forth, until a kill from Brett Anema and Park error ended it 25-22.
"Guys came off the bench and gave us lifts, it's a pretty awesome feeling," middle blocker Brett Anema said.
The third set was a close battle early, as the teams played to a 10-10 tie. A kill from Tumanuvao gave CU the lead and the squads went back and forth until Park took an 18-16 lead. They maintained that edge until a PU error saw the set tied at 21. Another Park error gave CU the 22-21 lead and the teams went back and forth until a CU error gave Park set point at 24-23. A service error tied the match at 24, then Park went ahead 25-24, until a kill from Tumanuvao and a Park error gave CU the 26-25 lead. Park matched at 26 and 27, until a Park service error and kill from Auxier gave CU the 29-27 win and the team and CU faithful went into celebration.
"No words can explain this, I've never felt like this before, it's just amazing," Concordia setter Roman Seghezzi said.
In Concordia's first year of the program, they claimed the MAMVIC National Conference Championship, first #1 ranking in school history, and NAIA National Championship. Coach Trevor Johnson was the MAMVIC National Coach of the Year, NAIA Coach of the Year, and All-Tournament coach. Auxier was the Tournament MVP and All-Tournament selection. Tumanuvao was the Hitting Percentage Tournament leader and an All-Tournament selection. With the win Concordia swept the NAIA Volleyball landscape and earned the sixth national championship in school history (2000 Women's Cross Country, 2003 Men's Basketball, 2011 Baseball, 2012 Men's Basketball, 2012 Women's Volleyball).
"We prepared and fought for this all year long, and we got what we came for," middle blocker Mark Metrakos said.
Concordia returns everyone in 2014, except senior libero Brad Rostratter. Coach Trevor Johnson will take the reins of the women's program, but he set his mark in his first and only season with the men. In a season of firsts, everything the team did was a school record, but that bar was set pretty high as Concordia men's volleyball immediately declared themselves THE national power in the NAIA.
"We prepared great all week, the guys listened and trusted us," Concordia head coach Trevor Johnson said. "Credit to our guys for the hard work they put in. They trusted each other and held each other accountable."
Tournament MVP: Dillon Auxier, Concordia University-Irvine
All-Tournament Team: Robert Esser, Missouri Baptist, Dontrell Brown, Warner University, Murilo Pereira, Park University, Rob Cordero, Park University, Dillon Auxier, Concordia University-Irvine, Naseri Tumanuvao, Concordia University-Irvine
Coach of the Year: Trevor Johnson, Concordia University-Irvine
Sportsman of the Year: Damon Sichler, Johnson and Wales
Tournament Statistical Leaders:
Hitting Percentage: Naseri Tumanuvao, Concordia University-Irvine, .472
Kills per game: Gustavo Cintron, Missouri Baptist, 4.30 per game
Assists per game: Andre Calar, Warner University, 11.70 per game
Digs per game: Kalani Rose, Park University, 2.73 per game
Service Aces per game: Andre Calar, Warner University, .40 per game
Blocks per game: Ty Coutts, Johnson and Wales, 1.56 per game
First Place Team: Concordia University-Irvine
Second Place Team: Park University
Semifinalist Team Trophies: Missouri Baptist University, Warner University