By Kait Goodenough, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of aqsaints.com
The first-ever Aquinas Men’s Volleyball team set the bar high this season, finishing out 2019 as #2 in the nation with an overall record of 35-5.
Despite taking only three losses in the regular season to Lourdes University, the Saints defeated then #2 Lourdes when it counted most, sweeping them (3-0) in the NAIA Men’s Volleyball National Championship Tournament.
Aquinas’s other two losses were to the now NAIA National Champions, Benedictine Mesa; one loss in pool play and the other in the National Championship game.
Aquinas Men’s Volleyball started its NAIA National Tournament journey as the #6 ranked team on Tuesday, April 16, traveling to Des Moines, Iowa. They faced then #3 Benedictine Mesa in the tournament opener. Benedictine swept the Saints (3-0) with scores of 25-14, 25-20, and 27-25.
The following day Aquinas upset the Lourdes Gray Wolves sweeping them with scores of 25-19, 25-23, and 25-19. The Saints didn’t stop cleaning up there and went on to sweep #8 St. Andrews University on Thursday, April 18 with scores of 25-16, 25-19, and 25-21.
The Saints’ two wins in pool play advanced them into the National Semifinals where they defeated #1 team Missouri Baptist University (1-3). With scores of 26-24, 23-25, 25-21, and 31-29 Aquinas earned its place in the NAIA National Tournament Championship match.
In the National Championship match on Saturday, April 20, Aquinas faced Benedictine Mesa one final time. Benedictine was able to sweep the Saints (3-0) once again to take home the NAIA National Championship title. Aquinas put up a fight ending the game with scores of 22-25, 20-25, and 14-25.
Going in as a new team ranked #6 in the nation and coming out as #2 is nothing shy of an amazing accomplishment for this 2019 Aquinas Men’s Volleyball team. As the roster currently consists of freshmen and juniors, all players would be eligible to return next season based on class status.
The Saints performed impressively, making history in their first season. It will be exciting to see what next year has in store for these athletes; hopefully an NAIA National Championship title is in Aquinas’s future. Go Saints!