At the end of four sets, The Master’s College volleyball team’s season came to a close with a 3-1 loss to 19th-ranked Wayland Baptist Friday night in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Volleyball National Championship tournament.
“It was a tough loss and we know we could have played better but Wayland seems to be a team of destiny,” graciously assessed head coach Bobby Blanken. “WBU had their fair share of struggles this year, and clearly that helped prepare them for this tournament. They had a great game and deserve much credit.”
The loss concludes the Lady Mustang’s 2013 campaign at 23-9 (8-6 GSAC). Blanken’s collegiate coaching career record now sits at 87-56, and 7-4 in NAIA postseason play.
Notably, it was the second time in program history that TMC made it to bracket play at the NAIA National Tournament. The squad’s first appearance was last year when 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 was practically an entirely different story as the 16th-ranked Lady Mustangs posted a 3-0 performance in the pool play portion of the tournament, earning a first round bye in single elimination play.
In the quarterfinal meeting, TMC, who boasted the fourth seed in bracket play, faced the fifth-seeded Pioneers.
The evening’s first frame opened with Wayland Baptist controlling the set from start to finish, ultimately resulting with a 25-16 Pioneer victory.
But, a resurgent Mustang offense kept the second set close by battling for a 25-19 victory. Attesting to the closeness of the second frame, the set displayed a .295 TMC attack percentage, 8 ties (5 TMC, 3 WBU) and a 6-point Mustang lead at the 25-19 mark.
The Lady Mustangs managed to keep the third set close until an attack error gave the Pioneers at 14-13 advantage which sparked an 11-5 run that closed the set at 25-18. Playing heavily into the Pioneer’s third set victory was a .220 attack percentage that easily eclipsed TMC’s .039 hitting percentage.
And while TMC desired a comeback in the fourth set, Wayland Baptist managed to control the better part of the entire frame, concluding the set, and match, at 25-18.
In her final game as a Mustang, Sam Dougherty (Madera, CA) concluded her brilliant collegiate career by leading all attackers with 21 kills. Senior libero Rebecca Peluffo (La Crescenta, CA) closed her time as a Mustang student-athlete with a game-high 29 digs.
“I’m going to miss Sam and Goose (Peluffo) so much,” further commented Blanken. “Those two were with us from the beginning, and my heart is so grateful to both of them.”
Aubrey Bekendam (Orland, CA) tallied 54 assists, while Ashley Newton (Henderson, NV), posted 14 kills.
As a squad, TMC notched 63 kills, a .168 attack percentage, 60 assists, and 78 digs.
“Regarding our team, we are very proud of the position we earned,” commented Blanken.
So, as the Lady Mustangs make their way back home from Iowa, the team leaves with the confidence that they will be back in Sioux City this time next year for another shot at a national title.