Despite Loss, Mustangs Keep Title Hopes Alive

November 28, 2012

Box Score:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Lady Mustangs (26-7) continued pool play in 2012 NAIA National Championships today against Viterbo University (34-7).

Coming on the heels of a less than desirable performance against CSU San Marcos on Tuesday night, the Lady Mustangs sought to rebound and keep their national title hopes alive against the V-Hawks.

Despite having four solo blocks compared to the V-Hawks recorded three solo blocks, and finishing with a higher attack percentage of .185 by the end of the night, the Lady Mustangs fell in four sets (20-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-27) to Viterbo.

TMC and Viterbo traded scoring spurts in the first set as the two teams tied on nine separate occasions.  Leveled at 17-17, the V-Hawks capitalized on an 8-3 run that included five kills and three Mustang attack errors.  With the set concluding at 25-20, the Mustangs entered the second set facing an uphill battle.

But the Mustangs showed resilience in set two as they began with a 10-3 run.  The V-Hawks slowed down TMC’s momentum with a time-out, and rallied a 15-point comeback that brought the score to 18-18.  The Mustangs shook off the surging V-Hawk effort, and produced a 7-1 run that consisted of three kills by Britney Jones  (Northridge, CA), a Sam Dougherty (Madera, CA) service ace, and two single kills by Jenna Kapuscinski (Sylmar, CA) and Stacey Jones (Scottsdale, AZ).

Viterbo regained composure after the Mustangs took set two and started the third game with a 6-1 run.  But the Mustangs fought back and brought the set to 10-10.  After a quick scoring spurt on each side that brought the match even at 12-12 the V-Hawks offense came alive, and slowly, but surely, extended their lead.  TMC delivered a five point run fueled on V-Hawk attack errors and single kills by Britney Jones and Dougherty that brought the game to 18-17.   Viterbo tallied three unanswered points appearing to put the game away.  The Mustangs fired back and tightened the gap at 19-20.  The V-Hawks seemed to put the game out of reach with a four-point run until TMC fought back again to tighten things at 23-24, forcing a match point. Unfortunately, the Mustangs’ resilient offense just couldn’t do the trick as TMC dropped the third game when Alicia Olsen of Viterbo delivered a decisive kill, forcing a fourth set.

The Mustangs looked to salvage the match in set four, as they started off strong displayed by a 3-0 early run.  Viterbo answered back and forced an early tie at 4-4 and controlled the match until the Mustangs caught up and tied the set at 22-22.  Sloppy play on part of the Mustangs extended the V-Hawks lead to 24-22 when TMC coughed up two attack errors.  But in dramatic fashion, a Viterbo set error and a kill by Tori Callihan (Simi Valley, CA) tied the set at 24-24.  From there, the V-Hawks rallied on two kills, accompanied by a Mustang service error, and brought the final score to 27-25, closing the night with a 3-1 victory.

“We’re obviously frustrated and really don’t want to be on this end of things,” assessed Mustang coach Bobby Blanken. “I’m happy with the girl’s performance as we led in all four games and met our goals by shutting out their outside hitters and finished out with a better attack percentage, but the small and intangible things prevented us from putting it away. We need to work on our mental errors.”

The Mustangs need to regain the confidence that backed their 26-5 regular season record as they face #7 Indiana Wesleyan tomorrow at 6:00 PM (PST).

Since Indiana Wesleyan defeated CSU San Marcos in three sets on Wednesday night, TMC is still alive in their pool (see standings below).  A Mustang victory on Thursday against the Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats and a Viterbo V-Hawk victory over CSU San Marcos would create a 3-way tie for second place and force a series of tie-breaking sets to be played late Thursday night.  TMC's hopes of advancing to the single elmination portion of the 2012 NAIA National Championships are precarious, but still possible.

Current Pool F Standings:

Viterbo                       2-0
Cal State San Marcos 1-1
Indiana Wesleyan       1-1
The Master's              0-2

For those who love details, below is the NAIA Tiebreaker procedure if three teams tie for second with a 1-2 record:

Tie Breaking Procedure (taken from the NAIA Volleyball Coaches Manual / 2012-13 / page 19) :

The following procedure is to be used only to determine place in pool play and cannot eliminate a team from competition:

  1. Overall match record.
  2. Head-to-head competition
  3. Percentage of sets won of those played among tied teams (total sets won/total sets played).
  4. Percentage of points won in matches played among tied teams (total points won/total points played).
  5. Percentage of total sets won.
  6. Percentage of total points won.
  7. Coin flip.

In the situation where there are three teams tied for second place in the pool, the team judged to be superior by the procedure listed above shall be the bye team. The other two teams shall play one set to 25 points and the winner will play the bye team one set to 25 points. (Two 25 point sets total.)