Concordia-St. Paul Wins Second Straight Division II National Championship


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ST. PAUL, Minn. - No. 1 Concordia University (37-1) repeats as NCAA Division II Volleyball Champions with a 3-2 marathon win over No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino (30-4).  The Golden Bears revenged a season opener loss against the Coyotes to win the title, taking the match 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13.

Concordia University dropped the match-opening set but rebounded with an incredible defensive showing to go up two games to one.  They held on in the fifth set, rallying from an 11-13 deficit to take the next four points and the national title.  Junior rightside hitter Sadie Kessler put down the final kill to send the crowd of 1,537 into an uproar.

The teams had similarly aggressive offenses and played tight throughout the evening.  The difference in the match came down to just a few errors made in the final points of the sets.

"It was an epic battle.  It came down to a point here, a point there," said Concordia head coach Brady Starkey.  "I'm so proud of how hard this team fights.  You can't train that."

All five of Concordia's hitters finished the match in double figures for kills.  Kessler topped the list with 17, followed by Whitney Meierotto with 16 and Maria Steinhagen, Emily Palkert and Ellie Duffy with 14 each.  Maggie McNamara had a season high 70 assists while the Golden Bears put down 75 kills in the match.  Keeping the team in the match defensively was junior Mary Slinger with 20 digs.  Meierotto and Kessler each completed double-doubles with 13 and 12 digs each, respectively.

Concordia had 12 blocks in the match, including several that changed the momentum of the match and gave the Golden Bears the edge for victory.  Palkert had six block assists while Steinhagen had three solo stops and two assists.  Steinhagen and Meierotto posted back-to-back solo blocks to put Concordia up 14-13 in the fifth and deciding set.

The Golden Bears hit at a .287 average with 75 kills on the evening.  They marked 73 digs and 12 blocks.

Jessica Granados had 20 kills and seven digs for the Coyotes.  Sara Rice followed with 14 kills.  Samantha Middleborn had 13 kills and a team high four block assists.  The Coyotes hit .230 on the evening with 63 kills.  They had 63 digs and nine blocks.

NCAA All-Tournament Team
S, Maggie McNamara, Concordia University
L, Mary Slinger, Concordia University
Opp, Sadie Kessler, Concordia University
MH, Maria Steinhagen, Concordia University
OH, Ellie Duffy, Concordia University
OH, Whitney Meierotto, Concordia University
OPP, Jessica Granados, Cal State San Bernardino
MH, Sara Rice, Cal State San Bernardino
S, Sara Hoffman, Cal State San Bernardino
L, Megan Haas, Cal State San Bernardino
OH, Jane Chafen, Cal State San Bernardino
OH, Eli Medina, Truman State

Article courtesy of Concordia-St. Paul athletics.

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