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National Tournament Pool Play opens for Volleyball on Tuesday

By Joel Snyder

The Lindsey Wilson volleyball team's quest for a second national championship rolls into pool play on Tuesday. The (RV) Blue Raiders will face arguably their toughest test of the season when they open the day against No. 7 Marian (IN) before closing the round robin versus No. 10 Concordia (NE).

The Blue Raiders begin their day at 12:30pmCT against Marian, then conclude at 7pmCT against Concordia. The Knights and Bulldogs will square off on Wednesday at 3:30pmCT.

The Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa, will serve as the venue for the women's volleyball national championship for the 13th-straight season. This year's field includes 24 teams divided into eight pools with three teams in each pool. The top team out of each group will advance to the single-elimination bracket starting on April 29, 2021.

No. 7 Marian (17-4) enters pool play on a five-match winning streak, having not surrendered a single set during that span.

The Knights claimed their bid to the NAIA tournament back in November after falling in straight sets to Indiana Wesleyan in the Crossroads League Tournament Championship. Since returning to the floor in late-February, Marian's only blemish is a three-set loss at Butler (Ind.).

Led by Skyler Van Note's 3.9 kills per game, the Knights boasts one of the highest hitting percentages in the nation at 26.1 percent, including a NAIA-best 14.7 kills per game.

Sarah Spangler ranks number 18 in the country with a 0.334 hitting percentage, while Lexi Spence leads the Knights with 430 total assists. As a team, Marian ranks second in the NAIA in assists per game, averaging 13.4.

The Blue Raiders and the Knights last met back on October 9, 2009 during the regular-season. This will be their first meeting during the postseason.

All-time, Marian has bested Lindsey Wilson in six of their seven matches with the Blue Raiders only win in the series coming on October 27, 2001.

No. 10 Concordia (16-4), like Marian, completed a majority of its regular-season in the fall, having played only five matches so far in 2021.

The Bulldogs won just their third all-time national tournament match by defeating Xavier (La.) in the Opening Round.

The Nebraska-based squad features a well-rounded line-up that includes one of the nation's top assisters in Tara Callahan. The senior is posting 11.0 assists per game which has Concordia ranking number 17 in the NAIA in that same category.

Gabi Nordaker paces the Bulldogs in blocks per game (1.2) and hitting percentage (0.300), while Camryn Opfer has compiled a team-high 75 kills to go along with a 0.273 hitting percentage and 52 digs over five spring matches for Concordia.

The Blue Raiders and the Bulldogs have met only one previous time in their history back in 2002. Concordia captured the lone meeting in straight sets.

(RV) Lindsey Wilson (22-3) turned more than a few heads with its upset of No. 22 Cornerstone in the Opening Round. The Blue Raiders marched into Grand Rapids and swept the Golden Eagles on their home floor to advance to their ninth consecutive NAIA Pool Play.

Currently riding a five-match win streak that includes a Mid-South Conference regular-season and tournament title, Lindsey Wilson is led on the floor by a hitting core that ranks number 12 in the country in hitting percentage (0.237).

Radaisy Valdez sports a team-best 0.333 hitting percentage to go along with 84 total blocks. Camryn Rich, who ranks number 16 in the NAIA in assists per game (10.2), leads the Blue Raiders with 833 total dimes.

Alexis Smith continues to be the most effective killer for Lindsey Wilson, striking 288 total kills for a 3.5 average.

Defensive specialist, Lauren Larzelere patrols the back line for the Blue Raiders with 430 total digs, while Peyton Johnston has served up a team-best 35 service aces.

Lindsey Wilson, who now holds a 28-12 all-time record in the national tournament, will look to potentially record its twentieth all-time victory in NAIA Pool Play, but they will need a pair of victories on Tuesday to do so.

This story was posted on 2021-04-27 07:45:35
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