Eagles News
Volleyball - Sun, Dec. 2, 2012
News Photo
3
VS
1
(1) Concordia
25-19,20-25,25-21,25-19
(3) Columbia College

2012 Concordia Eagles 38-0 Record Ends in Program's First NAIA National Championship

 

Sitting on the court watching Texas at Brownsville celebrate their National Championship last season, the Concordia Eagles knew that is where they wanted to be in 2012.  Fast forward through 38 wins, another GSAC Championship, and the #1 Eagles were standing on that same court on Saturday night, December 1, celebrating their own National Championship after a win over #3 Columbia, 3-1.

Concordia was perfect in 2012, 38-0, setting a new school record with 38 straight wins and winning the school's first National Championship in their fourth try.  Every player returned from the runner-up squad in 2011, and now they are all National Champions.  It marks the fifth national championship in Concordia's history (2000 Women's Cross Country, 2003 Men's Basketball, 2011 Baseball, 2012 Men's Basketball.)

The #1 Eagles (38-0) and #3 Cougars (42-2) had met twice before, but only in the NAIA Semifinal round.  Concordia is now 3-0 all-time against Columbia, with the latest being the sweetest.  Concordia had appeared in the title game in 2004, 2008, and 2011, and this time they finally got that elusive title.  They kept Columbia from gathering their fourth National Championship in this, their eighth National Championship game.

"Nothing came easy, but this is one tough group," head coach Dan Fisher said.  "They found a way every time we were in tight positions this year.  I couldn't be prouder.  We came in everyday and worked, and always believed.  They deserved it and I am really proud."

Concordia finished the season as the only undefeated team in the country and captured the title in their eighth trip to the National Tournament.  On Saturday night, Concordia won game one, dropped game two, but fought through the third and fourth games to hoist the trophy.

"I've grown so much in four years at Concordia and developed relationships I will have for the rest of my life," Brooke Marino said.  "I can't thank the coaching staff enough for that growth.  Our team matured so quickly and became the team we always wanted to be.  I am so blessed, everything happens for a reason, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to this school."

Jessica Israel led the Eagles on Saturday night with 17 kills, hitting .500, with two blocks.  Madison Ekis added 14 kills and nine digs.  Fei Gao was great all around with nine kills and 15 digs.  Middle blockers Reanna Schelhaas and Le Mi had eight and seven kills respectively, and Schelhaas hit .500.  Mi had two blocks.  Libero Kara Vincitorio had 19 digs, and setters Elizabeth Younglove and Jenee Henderson had 28 and 21 assists, respectively.  The teams were equal with 10 blocks each, CU hit .271 while the Cougars hit .211.  NAIA Tournament MVP setter Paula Ferreira controlled the pace of the game for CC, putting everything on a platter and sneaking six kills.

"This year was amazing.  I knew I needed to step up this year when Brooke (Marino) went down and help her get that ring," Hillary Crone said.  "We got the opportunity and I am glad we got it done for her."

Dan Fisher was once again selected as the NAIA Coach of the Year, his second such award in his two seasons at the school.  Madison Ekis, Jessica Israel, and Fei Gao were all selected 2012 Tachikara All-Tournament Team.  Ekis was also selected All-Tournament last season.

"It's been an amazing experience from day one," Fei Gao said.  "I've never seen girls work so hard.  Right now everything paid off and I am so proud of our team."

In the first game on Saturday night, Concordia made their first run with the score at 4-3.  They scored five of the next six, led by a Gao ace and three Ekis kills.  The Cougars slowed the momentum and the teams traded points until the score read 16-11.  CC scored two straight to pull within three at 16-13.  The teams went back and forth until CU led 19-16.  Concordia five of the last eight points to win 25-19.  A kill from Isreal and Schelhaas, and two solo blocks from Mi led the charge.  CU hit .226 in the set, compared to .116 for Columbia.

"It's still so unreal, going 38-0 and winning a national championship," Reanna Schelhaas said. 

"Adversity was great for our team this year," Madison Ekis said. 

In set two Columbia proved they were there to stay on Saturday night.  They took an early 9-4 lead on sloppy play from CU early on.  Concordia started slowly mounting a comeback and eventually tied the game at 15.  Kills from Gao, Ekis, and Schelhaas paced CU on the offensive side over that stretch.  An ace from Younglove gave CU a 16-15 lead, their first of the set.  It was sideout volleys from there until the score was knotted at 18.  CC took a one point lead, CU tied it, and then the Cougars took two to go up 21-19.  Concordia pulled within one, but Columbia scored the final four points to tie the sets at one each.  Concordia hit .294 in the set, while CC hit a high .364.

"This is the greatest feeling right now," Elizabeth Younglove said.  "We couldn't have done it without our whole team and everyone supporting us.  During this tournament we took every game on game at a time.  When we stepped back on the court tonight we were all calm and we knew what to do."

A service ace from Younglove and Israel gave CU an early 2-0 lead in the third set.  CC tied the game at four, and the teams went back and forth until CC led 10-8.  Two Ekis kills tied it at 10.  A kill from Gao and Israel gave CU the 13-11 lead.  Columbia came back to tie the game at 15 and again at 16.  Kills from Gao, Schelhaas, and Vincitorio saw CU take a big edge, 19-16.  CC made an attack error and called a timeout with CU up 20-16.  Columbia got within three at 22-19, forcing Concordia to use a timeout.  The teams traded points to the finish, with Israel and Gao getting kills, for the 25-21 CU win.  Concordia hit .302 in the set, compared to .205 for Columbia.

"It's been a great year, especially for our seniors," Kara Vincitorio said. 

Concordia started strong in the all-important fourth set.  They went up 2-0 early.  CC scored, then Concordia tallied three straight on two Israel kills and a block from Israel and Hughes.  Columbia didn't let it end there, mounting a rally to tie at eight and again at nine.  Concordia scored three straight on an ace from Vincitorio, kill from Schelhaas, and CC error.  Concordia would not let that lead go.  Columbia got within one at 12-11, but two Ekis kills put them back up 14-11.  CC came right back with two of their own winners.  Concordia stretched the lead to 18-14 on kills from Mi and Ekis, forcing the final Columbia timeout.  The teams traded sideout volleys until the count read 21-17.  Kills from Schelhaas, Hughes, and Israel helped CU win four of the last six points enroute to a 25-19 match win.  Concordia hit .250 in the final set, while CC hit .189.

The game was representative of the whole year.  Every time it looked like this might be the one that won't go the Eagles way, the ladies rallied and made it go their way.  Over the course of 38 games there were many chances to slip up and lose.  Credit coach Dan Fisher and his staff, and the young ladies' resolve, as that slip never happened.  As a result, the 2012 season miraculously outdoes the record setting season that was 2011.  Seniors Fei Gao, Hillary Crone, and Brooke Marino will leave the institution as National Champions in their last game in the green and gold.  For a team that started working towards this goal almost a day after losing in the National Championship, this season could not have ended any more PERFECT.

Tachikara Tournament Most Valuable Player
Paula Ferreira, Columbia (Mo.)

Tachikara All-Tournament Coach
Dan Fisher, Concordia (Calif.)

Tournament Champions of Character Team Award
Oklahoma Baptist 

2012 TACHIKARA ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

SCHOOL

NAME

POS.

YEAR

Biola (Calif.)

Christine Douglas

OH

Sr.

Biola (Calif.)

Amy Weststeyn

MH

So.

Columbia (Mo.)

Elena Berroteran

L

Sr.

Columbia (Mo.)

Kohoriz Feliz

OH

Jr.

Concordia (Calif.)

Madison Ekis

OH

Jr.

Concordia (Calif.)

Jessica Isreal

RS

So.

Concordia (Calif.)

Fei Gao

OH

Sr.

Hastings (Neb.)

Kendra Schwein

OH

Sr.

MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)

Linjun Ji

OH

Jr.

Oklahoma Baptist

Kristin Pressley

OH

Jr.

Texas at Brownsville

Danica Markovic

OH

Jr.

Texas at Brownsville

Michelle Marques

RS

Jr.

Viterbo (Wis.)

Katie Flock

OH

Sr.

Viterbo (Wis.)

Alicia Olson

OH

So.

 
 

Concordia Eagles - Live Stats - Video Streaming - Twitter