(Editor's note: University of Providence press release)
SIOUX CITY, Iowa—The No. 5 University of Providence volleyball team routed No. 23 Lindsey Wilson in three sets in the first game of the NAIA National Volleyball Championship Tuesday morning. The Argos (27-2, 10-0) defeated the Blue Raiders (25-6, 13-3) 25-19, 25-18, 25-15.
"It was fun from start to finish," head coach Arunas Duda said. "The experience of being here is unreal. Our leaders stepped up and played well. It was a really fun day."
The Argos outhit the Blue Raiders .346 to .160 on the day and recorded 46 kills to the Blue Raiders 39. The squad was stout at the net, forcing the Blue Raiders into a total of 20 attack errors.
The two teams traded points in the early goings of the opening set, before the Blue Raiders went on a 5-0 run to take a 10-8 lead. The Argos went on a run of their own a few points later, rattling off eight straight unanswered points to give the team a 20-14 lead. The run proved critical as the Argos pulled away with a 25-19 first-set win.
"It took us a little bit to catch up to the speed," Duda said. "It's the National Tournament and everyone is a good team. At first they were going off a little bit with their outsides getting some kills. It just took us a little bit to settle into our game plan. We made a few minor adjustments on the court and everything just kind of fell in place."
After an even start to the second set, the Argos again put together multiple runs, jumping out to an 18-11 lead. The Blue Raiders scored three straight to cut the lead to four, but the Argos rallied and hung on and got a 25-18 second set win.
The Argos were relentless on the attack from the start of the third set, scoring four straight points en route to a 7-4 lead. The squad never looked back, claiming the victory on a Jenna Thorne kill, 25-15.
The Argos were led by the dominant two-headed attack of Thorne and Sadie Lott. Thorne finished with 15 kills on a .448 hitting percentage while Lott finished with 14 kills on a .481 hitting percentage. Bailey Christensen also added a season-high nine kills for the squad. Cydney Finberg-Roberts led the way with 38 assists on the day.
"Jenna and Sadie raised it to another level today and that's what you want to see at the National Tournament," Duda said. "It was just so fun to watch them because they were bouncing balls. Sadie bounced a couple from the middle and Jenna got up and over the block a couple of times and did some really nice things from the outside. Our other hitters played their roles extremely well."
The team was also stout defensively, led by Sacha Legros, who recorded 14 digs during the match. Finberg-Roberts added 12 digs while Adysen Burns notched 11. Lott led the team with four blocks, while Mariah Jardine and Zoe Naugle both added three.
"The girls were really prepared," Duda said. "Between how we served and how we defended we completely took them out of their game."
The squad will play their final game of pool play tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. Mountain time against Life University. If the Argos win that game, they'll advance to the quarterfinals, where they'll be one of eight teams who will play in a single-elimination tournament for the National Championship.
"We're going to have to play just as well tomorrow," Duda said. "We can't get complacent, we can't get relaxed at all. We have to make sure that we're focused on our preparation once again. We'll get the chance to watch Life tonight so it'll give us the chance to go over our scouting report again. I know our girls will be prepared again. They have the correct mindset going into it. They are ready to go."