By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The high drama of Saturday night did not tarry into Monday morning.
After a thrilling four-set win over Westmont College in the Golden State Athletic Conference championship game, The Master’s University women’s volleyball team could sit back and relax inside the school’s athletic offices during Monday’s selection show knowing that a bye to the NAIA Championship final site was all but secure.
It was. The Master’s earned the tournament’s no. 12 seed, a position one spot higher than the previous coaches’ poll, and will not be one of 24 teams to play an opening round match on campuses across the country this week.
Instead, TMU will fly to Sioux City, Iowa, where it will begin pool play on Nov. 27 to Nov. 29.
“Seeing that confirmation on the screen, it makes it more real, more exciting,” said junior Madi Fay of the next step in an impressive turnaround.
The Mustangs’ 29-5 record represents an improvement of 18 wins over a year ago, when the team missed the national tournament for the fourth straight season. Master’s secured the GSAC’s automatic bid to nationals with Saturday’s 3-1 win over No. 15 Westmont at Hope International in Fullerton.
The Mustangs won the first set, forced Westmont to set point in the second and then let it slip away – the set, that is. Master’s reestablished control when Jane Cisar’s kill sealed a 25-22 win in set three.
Regan Tate led the Mustangs with 16 kills, two short of her career high. And McKenna Hafner came up with a match-high 33 digs, many of them difficult.
Fans, administrators and the team lingered on the court long after the match, basking in the achievement.
Now, the good times can continue – in Iowa.
“I think it was total excitement Saturday night,” Fay said, “such a feeling of payoff.”
But how does Master’s stay sharp over the long layoff?
“It’s going to be important that in practice we don’t plateau or take it easy because we know we have all this time or thinking, ‘We just won, so it’s fine,'” Fay said. “We have to keep that same energy, that same intensity. Resetting our goals will be important.”
After the Mustangs won the first GSAC regular season title in program history earlier this month, the team met and established a new goal: winning the conference tournament.
“Winning nationals,” said Fay.