The road to the championship

Women’s volleyball wins the first two games of pool play in the NAIA National Championship Tournament.


Jenny Oetzell/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Jack Finck, Writer

Women’s volleyball traveled to Iowa to participate in the NAIA national tournament that runs Dec. 2-6. The tournament has three rounds of pool play before the top two teams of each pool advance to the single elimination rounds on Dec. 5.

“Honestly, we would be very disappointed if we didn’t make it to the finals again,” said senior libero/defensive specialist Jaci Schork. “It would be even more disappointing if we didn’t make it to the quarter finals at least. Not making it to playoffs, not even getting out of pool play would be very embarrassing. Especially with a great pool, we’re taking each game very seriously.”

The Eagles played the College of Coastal Georgia Dec. 2. Coastal Georgia earned a regular season record of 35-2 and finished undefeated in their conference. Junior outside hitter Joclyn Kirton lead Biola with 18 kills and two blocks as the Eagles beat the Mariners in three sets 25-14, 26-24 and 25-13.

The Eagles next faced Madonna University on Dec. 3. The Crusaders got up early after winning a dramatic first set 33-31. Biola bounced back, taking the next three sets 25-17, 25-11 and 25-19. Senior middle blocker Amy Weststeyn produced a team high of 16 kills and eight blocks.

Biola is tied with Viterbo University in pool standings as both teams have beaten the other two schools in the pool, Madonna University and the College of Coastal Georgia. The Eagles play Viterbo Dec. 4 to decide the pool winner, but both teams will advance to the single elimination round regardless of the result.

“We’re really excited,” said Kirton. “Nationals is the most exciting time of the year, so our mindset would just be to take it one game at a time and consider every opponent as a tough game, it’s not going to be easy for us.”

Two other teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference are participating in nationals. Concordia University is 1-0 in their pool and will play two more games before they can move on. Vanguard University is tied for second in their pool with Southern Oregon University. The two teams will play each other Dec. 4, the winner advancing to the next round.  

“I think Concordia and [the University of Texas] Brownsville will probably be the biggest [competition],” said junior setter Ashton Arbuthnot. “We play them every year and it kind of goes back and forth with who wins. Last year Brownsville got us in the finals and this year we beat them. Typically those are our biggest competitions.”

Single elimination begins Dec. 5. If Biola wins the first round, they continue to the quarter finals later that day. The semi-finals and championship will be held Dec. 6.

“I think in order to consider this tournament as a success we would have to make it to the finals,” said Kirton. “I am really confident in this team this year. I think that we’re a team of championship caliber. I think the only way we’ll be satisfied is if we win in the finals.”

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