Cougars Open Pool Play Next Tuesday at NAIA Championships
COLUMBIA -- The Cougar volleyball team will return to action next Tuesday, November 27th when NAIA Volleyball National Championship pool play kicks off in Sioux City, Iowa. Columbia, ranked No. 3 in the final Coaches' Top 25 poll, will match up with Carroll College on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the first game for Pool C. They follow that up with a game against Madonna University on Wednesday, November 28th at 1 p.m. The Cougars wrap up pool play on Thursday, November 29th against Oklahoma Baptist University at 3:15 p.m.
Columbia (37-1): The Cougars are coming off a 3-0 victory in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) Championship game over Park (Mo.) University on November 10th. Columbia completed the regular season with a perfect 18-0 record in conference play and landed four players on the First Team All-Conference squad, highlighted by AMC Player and Setter of the Year Paula Ferreira. Thus far in her senior season, Ferreira has posted 1,471 assists for an average of 12.3 per set. Other first team performers included AMC Libero of the Year Elena Berroteran (603 digs) & outside hitters Kahoriz Feliz (412 kills) and Brooke Simpson (311 kills). Cougar head coach Melinda Wrye-Washington also took home the award for AMC Coach of the Year.
Oklahoma Baptist (32-4): The Bison enter pool play as champions of the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) and ranked 10th in the NAIA Top 25. They went 12-0 during the regular season before defeating Wayland Baptist (Texas) University in the SAC Tournament Championship game and receiving an opening round bye for the national tournament. Junior outside hitter Kristin Pressley has posted 541 kills on the year and ranks fifth in the NAIA in kills per set at 4.4 The Bison are coached by Anna Howle.
Madonna (34-7): The Crusaders, ranked No. 15 in the NAIA, come into pool play as regular season and tournament champions of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). They defeated Saint Xavier (Ill.) University 3-1 in NAIA opening round play on Saturday, November 17th. WHAC Player and Setter of the Year Evia Prieditis ranks fourth in the NAIA in assists with 1,574. Jerry Abraham is in his 26th season as head coach at Madonna.
Carroll (25-9): The Fighting Saints advanced into pool play with a 3-0 opening round victory over Jamestown (N.D.) College on November 17th. Prior to that, they defeated Montana State University-Northern 3-2 in the Frontier Conference Tournament Championship game to receive an automatic bid to the national championships. Junior Elli Graff leads the team in kills with 307 and Catie Hanser has posted 590 digs on the season. Moe Boyle is in her eighth season at the helm for Carroll.
The top two teams out of each pool will advance onto bracket play. Catch the Cougars run at the national title on columbiacougars.com where Tex Little will have the play-by-play for each Columbia contest. Live statistics for the event will also be available with links posted on the Cougar volleyball schedule page next week.