COLUMBIA, Ky. – For the first time in program history, the Lindsey Wilson College volleyball team advanced past the NAIA National Championship Opening Round with a 3-0 sweep of Grand View (Iowa) on Saturday night at Biggers Sports Center.
Fans packed the gym as the Blue Raiders beat the Vikings 25-18, 27-25, 25-16 in a win that moved the program to new heights. Lindsey Wilson simply reached nationals for the first time last season, this time around it's heading to Sioux City, Iowa as one of the final 24 teams left playing in the nation.
To get there the Blue Raiders needed some big performances and Saturday night there were plenty to choose from.
All of that offense was set in motion by setter Andrea Taylor who led the match with 43 assists as her hitters finished with a .303 hitting percentage, compared to just .123 for Grand View.
Grand View (29-11) was a battle-tested team and finished the season ranked 19th in the final NAIA Coaches' Poll, but on Saturday night the Blue Raiders had a little bit more juice.
The first set was a classic back-and-forth battle that saw eight ties before Angela Mlachnik took over on serve looking at a 14-13 deficit. The senior wouldn't stop serving for the next seven points as a service error ended her run with Lindsey Wilson in front 18-15.
Hayne issued a kill on the next points, followed by a Viking error that allowed the Blue Raiders to reach 20 points with a five-point lead. Grand View scored just three more times before Doyle put the set away with a kill.
The second set was tight all the way until the end as an error by Moorhead late in the frame tied the score at 23 all. Play in the set went beyond regulation, but Doyle was there once again with three kills over the final six points to give Lindsey Wilson the 27-25 win.
Finally there was some breathing room in the third set as all spectators could sense the Blue Raiders were on the verge of their first NAIA postseason win. After a Viking attack error Lindsey Wilson had a 5-0 lead and it never led by less than three points the rest of the way.
Grand View had a big match from Kadie Subbert with 13 kills, four digs and a block and Hannah Loehr paced the defense with three blocks, but it wasn't enough to overcome a poor night on the attack.
Other top performances for Lindsey Wilson include Kellie Ranney with a match-high 16 digs and Kristi Hager with 13 digs, two assists and an ace. Sierra Wilkerson was the leading blocker with two, while also posting seven timely kills on just 14 swings.
Lindsey Wilson's group of four teams in its pool will be announced by the NAIA at 5 p.m. CT on Sunday.