Park (Mo.) Wins First-Ever National Championship
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Full Schedule | Bracket) Park (Mo.) made program history Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center, as the Pirates swept defending national champion Texas at Brownsville, 3-0, in the final of the 2014 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, presented by J&L Staffing and Recruiting.
Park finished the season with a perfect 40-0 record, the fourth team in the last six years to conclude the season with an unblemished record, including Texas at Brownsville in 2013.
“I didn’t even see the last point. I don’t know what happened, but I saw the girls on the ground celebrating and crying,” said Park head coach Mike Talamantes. “I am so happy for our seniors. This is theirs. This belongs to everyone in this program, but especially to our seniors.”
The meeting between the two sides was the third all-time and first at the national championship. Prior to tonight, the Pirates were 0-2 and had never taken a set from the Ocelots.
Outside hitter Wendy Romero was named the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball National Championship Most Valuable Player for her play at the event. The San Carlos, Venezuela, native tallied 111 kills – second to only Alicia Olson of Viterbo’s (Wis.) 122 – a .323 hitting percentage, 23 blocks and 11 service aces. Against Texas at Brownsville, Romero recorded a double-double with 16 kills and 10 digs.
Texas at Brownsville forced two Park timeouts in the opening 13 points of set one, as the Ocelots raced out to a 9-4 lead. However, the Pirates chipped away at the deficit and eventually tied the match, 17-17, on a Danielle Marques attack error. Park took its first lead eight points later 21-20 and never looked back, closing the set on a Romero ace, 25-23.
In set two, the two programs played within two points of one another until Raissa Herczfeld hammered home one of her six kills to give the Pirates a 20-17 lead. Park scored five of the next seven points to close the frame 25-19. The Pirate offense was on-point throughout the stanza, recording a match-best .389 hitting percentage and 15 team kills.
Park controlled the third and final set, ending the match and claiming the banner with a 17-9 run that included five kills from Romero. The final set ended 25-16.
As a team, the Park ended the night hitting .343 with 42 kills and five team blocks, while Texas at Brownsville was limited to a .177 attack percentage.
Bojana Mitrovic, who was named to the National Championship All-Tournament Team for her performance throughout the week, was the bright spot for a Texas at Brownsville squad that was appearing in the title match for the third time in the last four years. The freshman outside hitter registered a match-high 19 kills – the only Ocelot in double figures.
With the loss, Texas at Brownsville ends the year with a 34-5 record.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, click here.
2014 NAIA Volleyball National Championship All-Tournament Team
Amy Weststeyn, Biola (Calif.)
Sierra Porter, College of Idaho
Jessica Isreal, Concordia (Calif.)
Jessalyn Smith, Eastern Oregon
Caraline Maher, Georgetown (Ky.)
Yeniffer Ramirez, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Hannah Carey, Missouri Baptist
Karlie Schut, Northwestern (Iowa)
Julianna Barros, Park (Mo.)
Yang Yang, Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
Vanja Joksic, Texas at Brownsville
Bojana Mitrovic, Texas at Brownsville
Jessica Neves, Vanguard (Calif.)
Alicia Olson, Viterbo (Wis.)
Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball National Championship Most Valuable Player: Wendy Romero, Park (Mo.)
Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball National Championship Coach of the Year: Mike Talamantes, Park (Mo.)
NAIA Volleyball National Championship Team Champions of Character: Eastern Oregon