LINCOLN, IL—The women’s volleyball team suffered defeat to both Lincoln Christian and Clearwater Christian on Thursday evening at the 2013 NCCAA National Tournament. Both games were part of the first round pool play, which will be combined with Friday’s matches to determine the top four advancing seeds.
The Crusaders squared off first against the Red Lions of Lincoln University at 2 p.m. CST, an opponent they have already faced twice this year. Maranatha claimed victory after the first match-up, sealing the 3-0 defeat on October 5th, but the Red Lions defeated the Crusaders 3-1 on November 2nd to win the NCCAA Regional Championship.
No strangers to each other, both teams fought hard back and forth throughout all three sets, with Lincoln just edging out victories in each of the three.
The Red Lions started out strong in the first set, storming to an 11-5 lead before eventually winning 25-17. Game two was much tighter, however, as the score was tied at 9-9 and even 23-23 late in the set. Lincoln would finish strong once again though, and take set two 26-24.
Set three was another closely battled contest, with both teams meeting at the mark of 15-15. Lincoln would never trail after that point, however, and after a 23-21 lead eventually win set three at 26-24.
Leading the Crusaders in the loss was senior Laci Peterson (Chillicothe, IL) with 15 kills, and sophomore Samantha Swiatek (Walled Lake, MI) with 13 digs.
The Crusaders second match of the evening featured a rematch of last year’s NCCAA National Championship game, as Maranatha lined up against the Cougars from Clearwater Christian College—this year in first round pool play.
The Crusaders continued their intense play from earlier on in the day in the very first set, jumping out to the 20-11 lead to force a Cougar timeout. Maranatha, led by the defense of Swiatek and Emily Thompson (Watertown, WI), would hold on for the 25-15 victory, notching their first win in this year’s tournament.
Set two featured another high-strung, even match, as the teams found themselves bound at 16-16. The back and forth play would continue all the way to 23-23, where Clearwater paused the action with a timeout. The Cougars responded well after the break, surging ahead to win set two by the score of 26-24.
With the game tied at 1-1, Clearwater amped up the pressure and never trailed throughout set three, claiming the 2-1 lead with a 25-17 victory. On the verge of losing three straight games to the reigning NCCAA champions, the Crusaders battled hard in the fourth set to take the lead 22-21. The Cougars experience and consistent attacks would be too much for Maranatha to overcome, however, as Clearwater won set four 26-24, taking the match at 3-1.
Despite the defeat, Maranatha was once again sparked by Peterson, who tallied 25 kills in the match. Swiatek worked to claim a ridiculous 39 digs, while Thompson added 10 digs and 19 assists.
The sixth ranked Crusaders look to improve on their already intense play with two potential victories tomorrow, as they will square off against #7 Arlington at 2 p.m. and #10 West Coast at 6 p.m. Due to the 0-2 result of today’s competitions, the Crusaders will not have a chance to advance to the championship round on Saturday, but will still participate in the final pool play action on Friday. All times are CST, and the games can be viewed live at Tourbeau Sports for a nominal fee.