By Shane Lydon, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of aqsaints.com
It was a season to remember for the Women’s Volleyball team who produced quality performance after quality performance to qualify for the NAIA championships in Sioux City, Iowa for the first time.
Despite losing out in a titanic encounter in the final of the WHAC against Cornerstone, the Saints managed to qualify for Nationals after an excellent campaign which ended with a 32-7 record in regular play and a 17-3 record in conference play. This resulted in a preliminary round match-up with St. Francis at the Sturrus Center.
It proved to be another ruthless performance from the Saints who put their opponents to the sword, winning in straight sets, 25-18, 25-23, and 28-26. It was another impressive performance from Kristin Danielson who finished the encounter with 17 kills. The result ensured the Saints a place in the pool stage of the National Championships in Sioux City.
Aquinas couldn’t have asked for a much tougher opening game as the Saints readied themselves for battle against the Nation’s #3 ranked team, Columbia College from Missouri. But if there’s one thing that this Aquinas team has shown all year, it’s a fear of no opposition.
This was demonstrated again in style as the Saints marched out to a two set to zero lead. However, Columbia weren’t #3 for no reason and responded to level the game at 2-2. With momentum on their side, Columbia were strong favorites going into the deciding set but once again, Aquinas showed their resilience to take it 15-11. Freshmen Jaclyn Rozell inspired the Saints with 22 kills.
Defeat to Midland Lutheran College in their second pool game put the pressure on the Saints as they took on Vanguard University in their final pool game. Once again, Aquinas stepped up when it mattered and showed too much quality for their California opposition as AQ took the game in straight sets, 25-22, 27-25 and 25-20. Rozell, Danielson and Kylie Christensen all impressed again while Karly Morris remained an imperial figure with the most digs for the team.
Unfortunately, the Saints were forced to take on Columbia in a tie-breaker to decide who qualified from the pool stage. It was the Cougars who took the victory which resulted in the end of the road for Aquinas this season. It’s been an incredible campaign for the ladies who already made history for becoming the first Aquinas volleyball team to make Nationals.
The game also meant the end of the college volleyball career for Kelsie Fischer, Stephanie Chenlo and Danielson. All three have been integral in helping Aquinas make it to Nationals and now the baton is passed on to next year’s seniors to try and lead this team to success again next year.