SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Even during the pandemic, the University of Providence volleyball program had one of its most dominant seasons ever in 2020-21.
Coming into Wednesday, the Argos hadn’t lost a match since early February. But their 20-game win streak and a trip to national quarterfinals were on the line in pool play Wednesday morning at the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Argos easily won their first game against Viterbo (Wis.) University on Tuesday, but they needed to beat the No. 1 team in the country, the University of Jamestown (N.D.), to keep their season alive on Wednesday. UP stuck close during the first set but ultimately struggled to get anything going against the size of the Jimmies, losing in three sets. The Argos finished the season 22-3.
"Jamestown was just, they were on point all afternoon," head coach Arunas Duda said. "And they have a really big middle that closed us down quite effectively. We're quick and we're fast, but we're definitely not the biggest team. And so we kind of ran up against a little bit of a roadblock (Wednesday) with that."
The ending was sour, but it was a historic season for the program. The Argos rattled off 20 wins in a row, a program record. UP was the outright Frontier Conference champion in the regular season and won its third straight Frontier Conference tournament title. The team dominated the conference’s postseason awards, and the Argos' top-16 finish was the best in program history.
"The one thing I told the girls afterward was, this has just been such a fun season for us. And in the midst of a pandemic and fighting through all those things, I can't believe how much fun we had through every step of the way," Duda said. "And so I would rank this definitely up near the top, and our girls, they just battled with everything we did this year."
The Argos aren’t going anywhere either. Because the NAIA granted players extended eligibility stemming from COVID-19, UP will bring back two seniors, libero Sacha Legros and hitter Jensyn Turner, from this squad as the Argos hope to make it even further in the tournament next year.