After receiving the last at large bid for the NAIA national tournament, the SOU women’s volleyball team was determined to extend their season another two weeks, defeating La Sierra University in a four set match on Saturday. This win secured a spot for the team at the national championships in Sioux City, Iowa, December 1-3.
The Raider’s had a productive start to the match (25-18) before dropping the second set (17-25) to the Eagles. “We just came out playing really flat” stated head coach Josh Rohlfing. They quickly changed the pace in the third set with kills by Emma Gasman and Nicki Small, sweeping La Sierra 25-11.
In the final game the Raiders displayed a true all-or-nothing mentality starting off the set with three kills by Laura Morse and a service ace to put them at a 4-0 lead.The crowd was on their feet game point, as a kill from Nicki Small was put right down the line, finishing out the match at 25-15.
The stats spoke for themselves with the Raiders racking up 53 kills with only 15 errors, while the Eagles collected only 47 kills and 20 errors. Lauren Mcgowne ran a highly effective offense, particularly in the last two sets, with 48 assists throughout the match.
”We started playing like we wanted something more than we were afraid to do something wrong” said Rohlfing. This is the fifth team he has taken to the national championship final site out of the nine seasons that he’s been at SOU, and the eighth time in program history.
They will be one of 24 teams to advance to Sioux City. Once there, they will be placed in pool play with Midland, Coastal Georgia, and Vanguard. If they advance past this stage they will enter a single elimination bracket with the first round and quarter-finals on December 4th, followed by semi-finals and finals on the 5th. The Raiders have already faced the Vanguard Lions earlier in the season coming out on top with a 3-1 win. A lot can change in a season, however, and the Raiders are ready to face whatever challenges are presented at this year’s tournament.
“Its really going to be about the lessons we’ve learned as the year has progressed,” stated Rohlfing “how to maintain intensity and maintain an edge […] it’s about being strong willed and I think we have that capability.” The last time SOU volleyball made it out of pool play was in 2011, the farthest they have ever gone in program history. The Raiders are veterans when it comes to post-season play and Rohlfing is confident that they will be able to make the most out of their last few games.