Concordia-St Paul volleyball advances to NCAA D-II National Championship

The top-seeded and third-ranked Concordia-St. Paul volleyball team (31-5) swept (25-16, 25-21, 25-14) fourth-seeded and 19th-ranked Cal State LA (25-7) on Saturday night in the NCAA National semifinal at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the campus of Seattle Pacific.

The Golden Bears will play for their NCAA record-tying 10th NCAA Championship tomorrow night at 5 p.m. against third-seeded and ninth-ranked West Texas A&M (32-4). CSP and WT have met twice previously in the postseason with Concordia claiming a four-set win in the 2007 national semifinal and a sweep in the 2009 national championship match.

The victory moved CSP to 78-9 in the NCAA Tournament, including a mark of 11-0 in national quarterfinal contests. In total, the Golden Bears have won 31 of their 33 matches in the Elite Eight field, winning their last 29 in a row dating back to 2006.

Concordia set the tone from the start as they picked up five of their six aces in the opening set while holding a tough serving CSULA squad to just two aces in the win. CSP added a .309-.083 advantage hitting and a 40-28 edge in kills in the win while also winning the defensive battle with an 11.0-2.0 edge in blocks and 41-33 edge in digs in the win.

Teagan Starkey tallied her ninth double-double of the season as she finished with 34 assists and a match-best 11 digs to go along with a kill, an ace and a block. Cassie Sieling joined her in double figures with 10 digs while Jasmine Mulvihill filled the stat sheet with 12 kills, eight digs and four blocks.

Emma Schmidt added seven kills and seven digs while collecting a perfect 17 service receptions with no errors and compiling a .462 hitting percentage. Makenna Berger chipped in eight kills while Katie Mattson had seven kills and four blocks.

Emily Elliott paced the Golden Eagles with 15 kills in the loss.

CSP couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start to begin the match as they used three aces over the first seven points to jump out to a 6-1 lead. With the lead still at five at 10-5, the Golden Eagles closed the gap to two, but the Golden Bears answered right back with four in a row and six of seven to extend the lead to 16-9. That lead would not shrink below four the rest of the way as Concordia took a 1-0 lead with a 25-16 set win.

Very little separated the two teams for much of set two with nine ties and four lead changes heading to the middle stages of the set. Trailing 12-11, Concordia rattled off a 6-2 run to take the lead for good at 17-14. Cal State LA trimmed the gap to a point several times before the finish, including as late as 21-20, before the Golden Bears took the set 25-21.

An early 3-0 run in the third set turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead to set the stage for a strong finish for the Golden Bears. With the lead at 12-9, Concordia put it out of reach with four points in a row and seven of eight to balloon the lead to nine at 19-10. It eventually reached double figures as Concordia finished off the sweep with a 25-14 win.

Courtesy: Concordia St Paul Sports Information