St. Ambrose (Iowa) def. Lindenwood, Makes School History With First Win at NAIA Tournament


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Parkville, Mo. - St. Ambrose (Iowa) University made school history with a 3-2 come-from-behind win against Lindenwood (Mo.) University in Day 2 of Pool Play at the NAIA Men's Volleyball National Invitational Tournament.

The Bees won its first National Invitational contest thanks to endurance victories in Games 4 and 5. Overall, the scores were 23-30, 30-25, 24-30, 35-33 and 19-17 at the Breckon Sports Center.

"My guys have been warriors all season," said St. Ambrose head coach Bill Gleeson, whose squad was 0-5 in National Invitational play coming into the match. "All 17 guys stuck together and always thought that we were going to win. Lindenwood came to play today. They were playing great defense and we never got into a rhythm early on."

St. Ambrose, who denies Lindenwood its ninth straight trip to the semifinals, will take on host-school Park (Mo.) University, in the first match of the Semifinals at 4:30 p.m. CST later today. Park swept both Missouri Baptist University and Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) University yesterday (Thursday).

"We are a young team with just one senior," said Gleeson. "Last year, we got to the Tournament and we were happy to get here. This time, we wanted to get here and win. We have broken all sorts of records this year and just want to keep that going."

Junior Mike Westendorf led St. Ambrose with 20 kills, 12 blocks and a .351 hitting percentage. Junior Bill Kramer posted a game-high 63 assists and added 10 digs.

Trailing 3-2 in the early going of Game 1, Lindenwood took control with five straight points and grab a 7-3 lead. Byron Ferguson sent home a kill and finished that run with a block assist. LU's lead did not drop below three points during the rest of the game as the Lions held SAU to a 17.1 (12-6-35) hitting percentage clip.

Lindenwood's Jared Kreienkamp led all hitters with six kills in Game 1.

After falling down 2-0 in Game 2, St. Ambrose responded with an 8-0 run to take control. Mestendorf had a hand in five of the Bees points during that spurt. Lindenwood battled back to within one point at 17-16 after a Joe Deimeke kill. However, the Bees countered by scoring eight of the game's next 11 points and hold a 25-19 edge at that point.

Lindenwood trimmed the deficit to two points, the 11th and final time of doing so, at 27-25. But, SAU closed out the game with three straight scores to take Game 2.

With a total of 11 ties or lead changes, Game 3 proved to be a tight one. Neither team led by more than three points until Lindenwood took advantage of a 9-3 run and secure a 16-11 lead. St. Ambrose came to within a two-point margin twice after that, the final time coming at 19-17. Sparked by a kill and two block assists from Dan Laure, the Lions opened up their margin to 25-19 and took home a 30-24 win.

In the marathon game of the match, Lindenwood seemed headed to the win after a Kreienkamp kill, one of his eight in the game. After a St. Ambrose attack error, LU led 22-17 in Game 4. However, a Mestendorf kill notched the score at 26-26. St. Ambrose pulled out the victory with the game's three final points.

In the deciding fifth game, St. Ambrose made its comeback complete starting with 5-1 run midway through the game. At that point, SAU was up by one at 11-10. From there, both teams played to the tune of 15 ties or lead changes. Joe Bara wrapped up SAU's first National Invitational win with a kill.

Kreienkamp of Lindenwood led all players with 27 kills to go along with a .435 hitting mark. Senior Brad Skendzel posted 59 assists and had 11 digs.

Lindenwood ends its season at 25-7 overall. St. Ambrose improves to 28-9 and will face a Park team that holds a 27-1 record.

Article courtesy of NAIA media relations.

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