National Championship Opening Round Recap
MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) made a big splash while playing in its first National Championship match in school history, topping No. 21 Bellevue (Neb.), 26-24, 25-18, 14-25, 25-19, as it scored the day’s first upset. Outside hitter Linjun Ji paced the Pioneers with a season-high 16 kills and libero Laura Hamblin added a match-high 21 digs.
In the second and final upset of the Opening Round, Kansas Wesleyan surprised No. 20 Oklahoma Baptist, 25-20, 15-25, 25-11, 25-21. The Coyotes were led by middle hitter Leah Keller’s 12 kills. Both teams qualified for the National Championship for the first time in their programs’ histories.
No. 22 Grand View (Iowa) also prevailed in its first appearance in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship. The Vikings knocked off Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) on the road, 25-12, 25-15, 25-18, behind a 15-kill performance from NAIA kills leader Devon Jensen. Grand View’s Nicole Boevers swatted an Opening Round-high four aces. Collectively, schools making their first National Championship appearances went 3-8 on the day.
In San Diego, Calif., a pair of ranked squads squared off as No. 18 Point Loma Nazarene topped No. 24 Cal State San Marcos, 23-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-18. The Sea Lions improved to 45-23 in 14 appearances all-time at the national championships. Point Loma Nazarene has now won Opening Round matches in four-consecutive years. In the only other matchup between ranked teams, No. 12 College of Idaho breezed by No. 23 Carroll (Mont.), 25-22, 25-15, 25-21. Lady Yotes’ outside hitter Ciciley Fox slammed down a Saturday-high 17 kills while Kelsey Soos’ 49 assists also led all Opening Round participants. College of Idaho boosted its record to 3-0 in Opening Round matches.
No. 13 Indiana Wesleyan, No. 14 Vanguard (Calif.), No. 15 Missouri Baptist, No. 16 Spring Hill (Ala.), No. 17 Indiana Tech, No. 18 Taylor (Ind.) and No. 25 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) also notched Opening Round victories on Saturday. Of those seven teams, five won in straight sets with Indiana Tech and Freed-Hardeman needing four sets to dispatch their opponents.
Ranked squads finished the day with a 10-4 record. Home teams posted a mark of 9-3. Seven matches were decided in straight sets and five lasted four sets.
The following teams received an Opening Round bye: Azusa Pacific (Calif.), Biola (Calif.), Columbia (Mo.), Concordia (Calif.), Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Fresno Pacific (Calif.), Lee (Ten.), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), Morningside (Iowa), Rocky Mountain (Mont.), Southern Oregon and Texas at Brownsville.
Final site pool assignments and schedule will be announced Nov. 21 by 5 p.m. CST.
The final 24 teams will be placed into six pools for three days of round-robin play. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination bracket starting Dec. 2. The championship match will take place on Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. CST.
Box Score - Missouri Baptist vs. Robert Morris (Ill.)
Box Score - Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) vs. Grand View (Iowa)
Box Score - Bellevue (Neb.) vs. MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)
Box Score - Indiana Tech vs. Point Park (Pa.)
Box Score - College of Idaho vs. Carroll (Mont.)
Box Score - Indiana East vs. Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Box Score - Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) vs. Cal State San Marcos
Box Score - Spring Hill (Ala.) vs. Xavier (La.)
Box Score - Kansas Wesleyan vs. Oklahoma Baptist
Box Score - Taylor (Ind.) vs. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Box Score - Indiana Wesleyan vs. Montreat (N.C.)
Box Score - Vanguard (Calif.) vs. La Sierra (Calif.)