Lady Patriot Volleyball Ends Season at NCCAA National Tournament

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The NCCAA Central Region Champion Lady Patriot Volleyball Team traveled to Kissimmee, Florida, on December 1-2 to compete for the chance at a NCCAA National Championship after sweeping the field at regionals two weeks prior.

The #6 seeded Lady Patriots began pool play on Thursday afternoon with the winner advancing to the championship bracket on Saturday.  DBU faced #3 seed Trinity Christian College (34-9) Thursday afternoon before being matched up against #2 seed Palm Beach Atlantic (29-3) shortly after.

DBU started well against the #3 seeded Trolls as they jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead winning the first set (25-21).  Trinity Christian rallied back to win sets two and three (25-23, 25-14) before the Lady Patriots were able to bounce back in the fourth (25-23) to force a fifth and final tie break set.  DBU was unable to fend off the Trolls as they were defeated (15-13) to move to 0-1 for the tournament.  Sophomore Krystal Wunderlich and Junior Christina Steinkruger led DBU on the offensive side of the ball recording 14 and 13 kills respectively.

After a loss in match one, the Lady Patriots looked to rebound against the #2 seeded Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish on Thursday night.  DBU’s defense was unable to stop the powerful Sailfish front line as they were defeated in straight sets (25-14, 25-16, 25-15).  The Sailfish were led by power outside hitter Mariela Quesada who finished with 14 kills, hitting to an impressive .481 average for PBA.  Wunderlich led the Lady Patriots in the loss with 10 total kills and added seven defensive digs on the night.

Friday consisted of the final two pool play games with DBU facing the #7 seed Asbury University Eagles before playing the #10 seed Southern Wesleyan University Warriors.

With DBU holding a 0-2 record through the first day of the tournament, they came into the game against Asbury looking to make a statement.  The Lady Patriots were able to overpower the Eagles with strong play from their right side Steinkruger and middle Junior Kristin Secord as they went onto sweep Asbury in straight sets (25-19, 26-24, 25-20).  Steinkruger led the team with 15 kills, while Secord connected on nine of her own in the win.

Coming off an impressive performance against Asbury, DBU looked to even their record against #10 Southern Wesleyan on Friday evening.  The Lady Patriots were full of confidence, and it showed, as they crushed the Warriors in straight sets (25-16, 25-21, 25-20) with three DBU players recording double digit kills.  Senior Kaylyn Frink finished the last game of her collegiate career with a match high 12 kills, while Steinkruger and Freshman Erika Papadeas each had 11.

Sophomore Tyler Bradsher was instrumental in the Lady Patriots’ two wins as she finished with 40 assists against Asbury and 38 against Southern Wesleyan.

The Lady Patriots, who finished the tournament with a 2-2 record, were unable to advance to the championship bracket on Saturday.  The Lady Patriots ended their season with an overall record of 22-17.  California Baptist University was able to defeat Trinity Christian 3-1 on Saturday in the championship match to claim the 2011 NCCAA National Title.

“This year has been a long one filled with multiple injuries, but we ended strong with our returners able to play a lot of points.  The NCCAA National Tournament put us up against some of the best competition we have seen all year,” said Head Coach Cathy Ray Kokel.  “Our regional run was very successful putting us undefeated in NCCAA play heading into the National Tournament.  I am so thankful my team was able to play such great teams, and have that kind of experience under their belt. We played hard and played well and I look forward to the spring and next season with those who will be returning,” added Kokel.