Junior Savannah Smith serves the ball during the third set against MidAmerica Nazarene University Saturday in Collins Center. Despite a close second set loss, 33-31, Baker was swept in the 2011 HAAC volleyball championship match in front of a large crowd that spilled onto the floor of Collins Center.
Photo by Pat Howell.
HAAC volleyball finals
MidAmerica Nazarene's volleyball team defeated Baker Saturday afternoon in the Collins Center in the finals of the Heart of America Tournament.
After sweeping Avila University and Graceland University in the first two rounds of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament, the Baker University volleyball team fell to MidAmerica Nazarene University 3-0 in the final round of the tournament.
MidAmerica Nazarene ended the Wildcats’ perfect conference record by defeating the team 25-18, 33-31 and 25-20 Saturday in Collins Center.
Head coach Kathy Allen said although this was not the ’Cats “best game,” she was happy with the effort the team displayed.
“We played hard,” Allen said. “We did our best and had some mistakes at some wrong times that maybe could have changed the outcome, but, all in all, I felt like the effort was there. I felt like they were trying hard, and that’s all I can ask.”
MidAmerica Nazarene had the momentum going into the second set, but the ’Cats bounced back from the first-set loss and fought the Pioneers for each point. The ’Cats had four set point opportunities but MidAmerica Nazarene stepped up each time to steal the win.
Early in the final set, the ’Cats controlled a slight lead. However, MidAmerica Nazarene took possession of the lead halfway through the frame and never looked back, ending Baker’s season.
Seniors Christina Delladio and Sydney Pemberton led the ’Cats offensive attack with 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Senior Brooke Allen had 31 digs, and junior Jana Boss led both teams with 33 assists.
“There are no regrets when looking back on the game because everybody put everything they could out on the court,” Brooke Allen said. “It just didn’t end up our way.”
Both Baker and MidAmerica Nazarene fans filled the stands of Collins Center, leaving standing room only for some fans.
Kathy Allen said the matchup was “the most intense NAIA volleyball game” she has ever been to.
“That is probably one of the most intense environments I have ever played in … and probably will ever play in,” Brooke Allen said. “The fans we had were amazing, and they were behind us the whole way.”
While the ’Cats aspirations of reaching the NAIA national tournament were cut short, senior Kelsey Cobb is proud of the team’s accomplishments throughout the season.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Cobb said. “Even though we didn’t get to go to nationals, we still achieved one of our goals, which was winning conference … And even though we didn’t win the last game doesn’t mean it can take anything away from the season that we had.”
Kathy Allen said this season has been a “fairytale.”
“It’s been one of those seasons that every coach dreams about,” Allen said “We won the conference championship, (and) we came second in the conference tournament.”
The ’Cats finished the season with a 26-11 record, and won the regular season HAAC championship for the first time since 1982.