Cougars claw past the Eagles

Biola volleyball’s season ends with a loss to Columbia College.

Dale Fredriks, Writer

The Biola Eagles volleyball team has officially ended their season with a five-set loss to the No. 4 ranked Columbia College Cougars on Dec. 4.

The loss came in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA tournament, which is not as far as the team made it last year when they were eliminated by Park University in the semifinal round. Biola got their revenge against Park in the pool play, but fell just a bit short in their pursuit of a championship. Biola ends the season with an overall record of 30-4, the best win percentage they have had since the 2008 season that went 31-4.

This match lived up to the hype of two top-five teams battling it out for a spot in the semifinals. A five-set match decided by two points is as close as you can get, but unfortunately it did not go Biola’s way this time.

Columbia got out to a very strong start, winning the first two sets 25-19 and 25-22, respectively. The Eagles offense struggled early, hitting .158 and .088 in the first and second sets. Biola, looking at the very real possibility of being swept by the Cougars, rallied back in the third set and took it 25-20. Still facing defeat, they again fought off Columbia’s offense to get the 25-20 win in the fourth set. With all the momentum behind them going into the fifth set, the outcome of the game was looking bright for the Eagles.

As per the final score given above, something went wrong for the Eagles, and that something was their attacking. Biola got six kills and seven errors in the final set, including two back-to-back errors in the final two points that gave Columbia the 16-14 set win.

Neither team did particularly well on offense the whole match, as Columbia ended with a kill percentage of .126, while Biola’s was slightly better at .151. The high point for the Eagles offensively was the fourth set, where they hit .325 off 15 kills and only two errors.

Senior middle blocker Alyssa Mason led the Eagles in kills for the match, ending with 16. Senior outside hitter Britta Blaser and freshman opposite Karly Dantuma were the only other Eagles to break double digits for kills, as they ended with 13 and 11 kills each.

This game marks the end of the careers of seven seniors on the team, Mason, Blaser, middle blocker Lauren Hoenecke, setter Ashton Arbuthnot, right side hitter Crissy Cunningham, outside hitter Joclyn Kirton and libero Alex Brehaut.

As for Columbia, they went on to win the NAIA tournament by sweeping their next two opponents in straight sets each time. In the semifinals, they matched up against the No. 1 ranked Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders, then faced the No. 3 ranked Missouri Baptist University Spartans — who Biola beat 3-1 in a mid-season tournament — in the championship. As unsatisfactory as it is for Biola to lose at any point short of a championship, Columbia proved themselves an excellent team and deserving of their national title.

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