December 2, 2013

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- This Week, The Master’s College volleyball team (20-8) will open up pool play at the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.

After their 3-0 victory over CSU San Marcos in the NAIA Opening Round match on November 23, the Lady Mustangs landed a spot in ‘Pool D.’

Waiting for them there are MidAmerica Nazarene University (26-2), Madonna University (38-0), and Rocky Mountain College (25-6).

On Tuesday, TMC will face MidAmerica Nazarene at 1:15 p.m. (PST). Wednesday’s match will be against Madonna at 11:00 a.m. (PST). And finally, on Thursday, the Lady Mustangs will play Rocky Mountain in an 11:00 a.m. (PST) match.

The tournament’s pool play winners will advance to single elimination play on Friday.

Below is a breif preview of each team in Pool D.

Madonna University:

ee8517a0f8ac60b000e0d653ffec49e1.pngNo. 4-ranked Madonna University enters the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship at 38-0, the second time in the 27-year history of the program that the Crusaders have been undefeated heading into the national summit (2005; 44-0). Head coach Jerry Abraham has the most wins of any NAIA volleyball coach with 1,043 heading to Sioux City as his squad is making its 13th appearance in the national tournament. Abraham – who was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2004 and was the 2005 NAIA Coach of the Year – also serves as MU’s head softball coach.

The Crusaders have lost just 10 sets all season and rolled through the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) at 11-0 to win the program’s 14th WHAC title since joining the league in 1997. MU swept the WHAC Championship with 3-0 wins over Indiana Tech, Aquinas and Lourdes to win its second straight WHAC Tournament title. Senior Emilie Freeman was named the WHAC’s Player of the Year while senior setter Evia Prieditis was tabbed as the league’s Setter of the Year for the third time in her career (2010, ’12, ’13). Prieditis – who was the WHAC Player of the Year in 2012 - was selected to the NAIA All-America second team in 2012.

MidAmerica Nazarene University:


The 2013 Pioneer Volleyball team completed their second straight undefeated (9-0) conference schedule and third straight conference tournament title, winning 30straight games vs. conference opponents dating back to 2011. MNU is 26-2, and the 2 losses were to Final Site participants: Midland and Park.

Vladi Kopanarova was named HAAC Player of the Year, Taryn Salum was named HAAC Setter of the Year, and Kristin Steele & Pam Luiz were named HAAC Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year respectively. Linjun Ji (1st), Zoraida Heredia (1st), Emily Hester (2nd), and Britney Grittman (HM) also earned All-Conference honors. Kopanarova earned HAAC Player of the Week honors 3 times, while Salum was a 4-time HAAC Setter of the Week.

The Master’s College:

TMC Athletics Logo.pngThe Master’s College volleyball team is set to return to the NAIA Volleyball Championship for the second consecutive year.   All of this comes from the16th-ranked Lady Mustangs’ fourth-place Golden State Athletic Conference finish and a 19-8 (8-6 GSAC) regular season record.

On November 23, the Lady Mustangs bested CSU San Marcos in three sets in the NAIA Volleyball Opening Round, punching their ticket to Sioux City, Iowa.

Last year, TMC made its first appearance in program history at the NAIA National Tournament.  The Lady Mustangs advanced from the tournament’s pool play by besting Cal State San Marcos and Indiana Weselyan in one-set tiebreakers. The next day, the Lady Mustangs fell to the Oklahoma Baptist Bison 3-1 in single elimination play, bringing their 2012 record to a close at 27-8 (10-4 GSAC).

This year’s Lady Mustangs are led by senior outside hitter Samantha Dougherty, and senior libero Rebecca Peluffo. Dougherty currently leads the GSAC with 417 kills, while Peluffo has contributed 456 digs in the 2013 campaign.

In his fifth year at the helm, head coach Bobby Blanken has seen the Lady Mustangs transform from a struggling program to a recognizable NAIA volleyball power. Blanken’s coaching record currently sits at 84-53.

Rocky Mountain College:

The Battlin’ Bears enter the NAIA National Tournament with a 25-6 (13-3 Frontier Conference) record.  On top of claiming the 2013 Frontier Conference title, Rocky th.jpgmountain earned its ticket to Sioux City by beating Montana State Northern in five sets on November 23 in the NAIA Volleyball Opening Round.

Rocky Mountain ranks first in the NAIA in blocks per game (2.930), fourth in digs per game (19.450), and fifth in total Blocks (333.500). The Battlin’ Bears also rank 31st in the NAIA in total digs (2217), and 43rd in hitting percentage (0.219).

Rocky Mountain is led by Ying Yang who has tallied 391 kills and 146 blocks in the 2013 campaign.