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MOORHEAD, Minn.  (11/13/11)– Concordia never got on track on offense and lost 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 to St. Thomas in the Region Championship of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in Moorhead.

The loss abruptly snaps the Cobbers’ 15-match win streak in 2011 and their 21-match home winning stretch as well. Concordia had beaten the Tommies twice at home earlier in the season but were unable to find consistency at the net and lost in the region championship for the second time in four years.

Concordia was never able to get into their system from the very first point and would only hit .072 for the match. It is the first time all season that the Cobbers finished with an attack percentage below .100. While the Cobbers struggled on offense, St. Thomas was finishing off every chance they got at the net. The Tommies set the tone in the opening set, recording a .278 attack percentage and coming away with 14 kills. Freshman Kelly Foley was a handful at the net all match long and had five of her match-high 14 winners in the opening set alone.

The Cobbers tried to rebound in the second set but a 7-2 run midway through the set put UST in control of the set and the match. CC was only able to hit .043 in the second set and had only four kills after the score was tied at 10-10.

St. Thomas (32-4) jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third set, stopping Concordia’s hopes at a quick start and the chance to get back in the match. The Tommies then built the lead to 13-5 before CC closed the gap to 16-13. Kills by Kelly Greenfield and Paige Brimeyer helped give UST a five-point lead and CC was never able to get closer than five for the rest of the match.

Concordia did not have a single player with more than eight kills in the match. Jenna Green had team highs in kills (8) and digs (18). Amy Sykora had 23 assists and Ashley Beseman came up with three blocks.

Green and Beseman were named to the Moorhead All-Region Tournament Team.

Besides the 14 winners from Foley for the Tommies, Greenfield chipped in nine kills and Brimeyer had seven. St. Thomas also had three players with double-digit dig totals. Greenfield had a team-high 12. Ashley Maher recorded 33 assists for the three sets.

Foley, Brimeyer and Maher were named to the All-Region Team for UST.

Concordia finishes the season with a 27-4 record. The 27 wins ties for the second most in school history.

We finish off the second day of matches in the Moorhead Regional by posting the two highlight videos from semifinals. The videos are a little longer as the action heated up on Saturday.

The first semifinal was a five-set classic with an amazing 37-35 third-set win by St. Scholastica. St. Thomas showed their championship colors by rallying from that heartbreaking set loss and posting wins in the final two sets.

The second semifinal was less dramatic as Concordia used a stifling defense to shut down Bethel’s top-notch front line and post a 3-0 sweep.

That sets up a rematch of last weekend’s MIAC Tournament Championship match between the Cobbers and Tommies. If that match is any indication of what is in store on Sunday – it should be another instant classic with lots of momentum swings and tons of energy.

Take a look at the videos and then rest up for the final match of the Moorhead Regional!

St. Thomas vs. St. Scholastica Video Highlights

Concordia vs. Bethel Video Highlights

Recap finished with help from Jesse Robinson – St. Scholastica SID

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/12/11)— St. Thomas overcame a 2-1 deficit and outlasted St. Scholastica 3-2 (25-15,18-25,35-37,25-19,15-12) in the first Moorhead Regional Semifinal in the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday.

The Tommies advanced to the Regional Championship match for the third straight year after losing a marathon back-and-forth 37-35 battle in set No.3.  UST quickly rebounded from that loss and took the next two sets 25-19 and 15-12 to capture the match.

St. Thomas raises their season record to 31-4 on the year while the Saints finish off a tremendous season at 27-7.

St. Scholastica took an early 3-1 lead in the opening set, but the Tommies went on a 7-0 run midway through the set, which proved to be the difference. St. Thomas prevailed 25-15.

The Tommies jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second set, but the Saints responded by going on a 7-2 run halfway through to take control and the set 25-18. CSS had four service aces, 14 kills and just two hitting errors in the set.

Then in the third set, the Saints held a 21-15 advantage, but the Tommies stormed back to take a 24-22 lead. The drama then ensued as kills by Paige Hardy and Taylor Tyllia took care of two set points for the Tommies. St. Thomas then had seven more set points, but the Saints fought off all of them, making spectacular plays defensively to keep the point alive and then attacking the ball with perfection. CSS eventually recorded two points in a row and had four set points themselves denied by the Tommies until kills by Anna Zyvoloski and Hardy ended the set with the Saints on top 37-35.

The 37 points scored is a program record for points scored in a set, including when teams had to win a set with 30 points.

The Tommies showed their grit and tournament experience in the fourth set, bouncing back quickly to take a 10-3 lead. The Saints crept back in and made it 18-16, but the Tommies held on to force a fifth set by a score of 25-19.

In the fifth set, the Saints took a 5-2 lead, but the Tommies went on a 9-1 run to go up 11-6. The Saints kept on fighting and cut the margin to 13-11. However, the Tommies got the kills they needed to take the fifth set and the match 15-12.

Zyvoloski led the Saints with 18 kills, followed by Hardy with 16 kills. Tyllia pitched in with 14 kills. Zyvoloski also had 22 digs to lead the team. Nikki Hughes had 20 digs, including one of the plays of the tournament to save a ball in the third set on a St. Thomas set point.

Sarah Kurtovich had 55 assists and along with Jenny Kienzle had three service aces. As a team, the Saints had 10 service aces.

St. Thomas had five players with double digit kill totals but was led by senior setter Ashley Maher who came away with 74 assists. Taylor Cross had a match-high 20 kills and hit .405 while Paige Brimeyer posted a .654 attack percentage and had 17 kills. Jill Greenfield posted a double-double by collecting 18 kills and 17 digs. Both Kaitlin Wachter and KariAnne Nass had a team-high 18 digs.

St. Thomas moves on to face Concordia College-Moorhead in the regional final after the Cobbers swept Bethel University.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/12/11)—There would be no drama needed on Saturday for Concordia in the   NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals. The Cobbers also made sure there would be no need for a fifth set, or an extra set of finger nails, as they swept Bethel 25-23, 25-22, 25-18 to advance to the Regional Championship match for the second time in the past four years.

Less than 24 hours after they played the most dramatic match in school history, Concordia took care of business by using a stifling defense to stop any Bethel offensive attack. The Cobbers had 9.0 team blocks, 16 more digs and held the Royals to a .067 hitting percentage in picking up their 27th win on the season. The 27 overall wins is the most since 1997 and ties for the second most in program history. With the victory over BU, Concordia also ran their winning streak to 15 matches.  In addition, they have now won 21 consecutive matches at home in a streak that dates back to the 2009 season.

Concordia’s defense and ability to come up with critical points in key set situations propelled CC to the win.

The Cobbers were tied 21-21 in the opening set before coming up with four of the final six points to win 25-23.

Bethel (23-10) played with the lead during the middle of set No.2 but then Concordia rattled off five straight points after being down 20-18 and went on to win 25-22. The Cobbers then put the third set away in the first seven points. CC bolted to a 6-1 lead and never let Bethel get within three points and rolled to the seven-point win.

The Cobbers had five different players with at least 10 digs in the match as they came away with 78 digs. The CC front line did not allow the Royals to hit better than .190 in any set and limited the Royals to just 29 total kills in the match.

Jenna Green had team highs in kills and digs for Concordia. She put down 18 winners and came away with 16 digs. Senior middle hitters Katie Vohnoutka and Ashley Beseman both had nine kills in the three sets. Vohnoutka also had 11 digs and three blocks while Beseman also had three blocks. Alison Bruggeman and Rachel Wiinanen also had double-digit dig totals. Bruggeman had 14 digs and added two blocks. Amy Sykora had a match-high 38 assists and 11 digs.

The Royals were limited in their attacks all match long and did not have a front line player with more than eight kills. Nicole Wriedt had a team-high eight kills. Valerie Smith recorded 21 digs and Kate Smith amassed 21 assists.

Concordia will now play conference rival St. Thomas in the Regional Championship for the chance to move on to the Elite 8. The Cobbers shared the MIAC regular-season title with the Tommies and then beat UST 3-2 to earn the conference tournament title. CC has beaten St.Thomas twice in 2011 with both victories coming in Moorhead in Memorial Auditorium.

The Moorhead Regional staff puts a wrap on the opening round of the 2011 NCAA DIII Volleyball Tournament and what a day it was. We learned many things over the course of the four matches and well into the night.

If you caught the name change of the regional give yourself two claps. That is the first thing we learned on the day: The Regional now has a princely quality as it had to officially change names and become the Moorhead Regional. That was sent down  in order to differentiate between the other two regionals held in the central section of the US (St. Louis and Grand Rapids). And there is no truth to the rumor that we were holding out for the regional to be called “The Tournament Formerly Known As The Central Regional”!

The day started with a five-set thriller and ended with a five-set roof raiser. In between was a pair of clinical three-set sweeps that left everyone excited for the semifinals. When it was all over we remembered one thing – there is nothing like an NCAA Tournament! It brings out emotions, drama and more tension than shows up on the screen in 30 minutes of “Jersey Shore”. You get to see the highs and lows of team spirit and are witness to some of the best matches that you will ever come across. As good as the regular season and conference playoffs are, the NCAA Tournament is that much more. From the workers to the student/athletes and from the coaches to the fans everyone knows that one bad pass, one miss hit and your season is over. It makes it more exciting for everyone involved.

So, as we get ready for the semifinals here are some of the things we learned on Friday:
– That even if it is your first NCAA Tournament you can still show resiliency and experience in the face of a 2-1 deficit.
– That coaches who have been on the bench for many years can still act like a kid on Christmas when points go their way.
– That it is hard to keep a good team down after a tough loss. Teams that compete for titles on a yearly basis rarely lose two matches in a row. And the opponent after that loss should beware – the sleeping giant has been awoken.
– That there is nothing like beating someone who is close to you. There is always something extra on the line when next door neighbors tangle – especially when it means bragging rights for the long cold winter.
– That after you beat up on each other you still can get together and celebrate all the gifts you have been given. Just because you have a grudge match on the court, doesn’t mean you can’t shake hands and be friends after.
– That just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see in an old barn – something is right around the corner to make you shake your head, take your breath away and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
– There is no place like home!
– That seeds and experience mean nothing in the NCAA Tournament and you are one tip at the net from going home – or moving on to the next round.
– That while the media likes to fixate about all the bad things coaches do there are eight coaches in the region who show nothing but class and are the true role models for student/athletes
– That if losing brings out the character in a person – than there were four teams and four coaching staffs that showed more character than empty fast food wrappers on an episode of “Hoarders”.
– That once again the reason that 90% of the people involved in DIII athletics are in it because of the people. There is no money to be made, or scholarships to be granted, but there are friendships and relationships that are worth their weight in gold.
– That if it takes a small village to raise a child than it takes a whole town to raise octuplets – and boy did this town step up, and boy are those big octuplets.
– That in the end, there are no better memories than playing in the national playoffs for a national championship. At the start of the day, 64 teams thought they had a chance to live the dream and now there are only 32 squads left chasing their “one shining moment”.

One last thing – if you liked the three pictures featured in this post, then check out the slideshow from all of the day’s action. All the pics were taken by former Cobber and budding photog superstar Isaac Vatnsdal.

Day 1 Picture Slide Show

Day 1 Scoreboard With Postmatch Links

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/12/11)– Here is your one-stop shopping for all of the four match highlight videos. You can just scroll down the page and see the best clips as they played out from the 12:30 p.m. start until the final point of the fourth match was knocked down around 9:55 p.m.

All told there was over nine hours of NCAA Tournament volleyball and the top-notch Concordia video crew condensed it all down to less than nine minutes. The Moorhead Regional staff would like to thank Concordia Manager of Digital Media Services Mike Knodle and Video Technician Wade Iverson for their attention to detail and their ability to try and find ways to make the video quality even better.

Sure, their were some bumpy spots in the live video feed when we took on high numbers of viewers, but overall it was a production worthy of a Division I event. Let us know if you find another regional in the country that has video packages from all first round matches at the site.

So, enjoy the four highlight videos and we hope it gets you ready for the semifinals which should be even better!

St. Scholastica vs. St. Ben’s Video Highlights

St. Thomas vs. UW-Eau Claire Video Highlights

Bethel vs. Northwestern Video Highlights

Concordia vs. UW-Stevens Point Video Highlights

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/11/11)—In front of the largest crowd to ever see a volleyball match in school history, Concordia battled through a five-set marathon and edged UW-Stevens Point 3-2 (25-11,15-25,25-13,18-25,16-14) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The Cobbers had to rally from a 7-4 deficit in the fifth set to pull away for the dramatic victory. Concordia also trailed 12-10 in the deciding set before winning six of the final eight points to win 16-14 and send the estimated crowd of 784 into a frenzy.

The win is the 14th straight for Concordia and 20th straight home victory in a streak that dates back to 2009. The Cobbers are now 26-3 on the season which is the most wins for a CC team since 2003.

The instant-classic victory started out in a completely different matter as the teams traded lopsided set wins. Concordia skipped their way to a 25-11 win in set No.1 before the Pointers shook off their NCAA Tournament nerves and returned the favor with a 25-15 victory in the second set. The third set sent the rollercoaster back in the Cobbers’ direction as they won 13 of the first 17 points and led at one point 21-7 before closing out the 25-13 win. Stevens Point then turned the tables one final time by going on a 4-0 run midway through the fourth set and keeping Concordia from closing out the match with a 25-18 victory.

That set the stage for an even more climactic fifth set. The Pointers won the first two points and then ran the lead to three at 7-4 before Concordia All-American Jenna Green came up with four straight kills to give the Cobbers a 9-8 lead. The teams traded points and then Stevens Point went ahead 12-10 on a Cobber attack error. Concordia coach Tim Mosser took a timeout and the team responded with three straight points to seize a 13-12 lead. With the crowd on their feet and hanging on every touch of the ball, Pointer junior Christina Brinkman knocked down one of her team-high 13 kills and the match was all tied at 13-13.

A kill from Concordia’s clutchest player of the night, Ashley Beseman, gave the Cobbers’ their first match point at 14-13. Brinkman once again brought Stevens Point back from the brink of defeat by coming up with her final winner of the night. That set the stage for Concordia’s two All-Americans as Katie Vohnoutka pounded down a serve from Amy Sykora to make the score 15-14 and then Green finished off the barn burner by getting her 13th kill of the night to give CC the 16-14 win.

Concordia hit above .185 in all three of their set wins and had an attack percentage of .114 in each of their set losses. Stevens Point hit better than .300 in both of their set wins but were held to a .000 attack percentage in their first two set losses.

Vohnoutka had a team-high 16 kills and 12 digs while Green ended the five-set match with 13 kills and 17 digs. Her 13 kills push over the 400-kill mark for season and she is now the first player in program history to record 400 kills and 400 digs in a single year. Beseman came up big in the third set time after time and finished with eight kills and two blocks. Sykora, the fourth senior on the team, had a match-high 44 assists and moved into second place on the school’s all-time assist list. Sykora now has 3,071 career kills.

Rachel Wiinanen and Alison Bruggeman also filled the stat sheet for Concordia. Wiinanen had a match-high 20 digs and Bruggeman added 13 digs and three kills.

UW-Stevens Point (26-8) had three players with at least 11 kills and was led by Kati Rau who had 16 kills and 11 digs. Brinkman also posted a double-double and ended with 13 kills and 16 digs. Morgan Bartkowiak was the final member of the double-digit kill club – finishing with 11 winners. Alexis Hartman had 39 assists and Ally Groth recorded a team-high 19 digs.

Concordia will now advance to the Regional Semifinal for the first time since 2008. The Cobbers will take on Bethel in the second semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. The Royals were the last team to beat Concordia. That loss came back on Sept. 21 in a match played in Arden Hills.