Volleyball - Wed, Dec. 4, 2013
Georgetown College volleyball has won 21 matches in straight sets, but the past five wins have been four sets or more. Heading into the Mid-South Conference semifinals, the No. 12 Tigers had not rallied from a 2-1 sets deficit. Now they have done it three times, the most critical to date happened Wednesday in the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, presented by J&L Enterprises and CNOS Foundation Pool Play B.
In order to secure continued play after the round robin portion, Georgetown (35-9) needed a win over Trinity Christian College. The Trolls (37-9) opened up winning sets one and three, but the Tigers fought back for the 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 15-10 win. They even needed a rally in set five to clinch it.
"This is tournament play," said GC coach Nick Griffin. "Seeing matches go the distance isn't a surprise, I'm just glad we've gotten a few rally wins down the stretch. We have the confidence that we are never out of a match."
Trailing 5-2, coach called a quick time out in a set that goes to 15. The Tigers came back out focused and ready for battle. They closed the gap, but TCC was not going down easily either. The Trolls took a 7-5 lead, one point from the crossover change mid-match.
Georgetown erased the deficit and took the 8-7 advantage for the exchange. After an 8-8 tie, the Tigers scored seven of the final nine points. The match was capped off by Rachel Eubanks' 18th kill, a season-high.
The junior tallied six in the third set and four more in the fourth set. Georgetown presented a strong, balanced attack as Caraline Maher and Kathryn Smith had 12 kills each, Allyson Wilbourn 10, Emily Weber nine and Corri Muha eight.
"We count on them all, especially now in the national tournament," Griffin said. "Teams can't just focus on one because they can all do it. It was really great to see them all step up at different points in the match."
The offense ran through Lindsey Martindale and Stephanie Gurren. Martindale had 32 assists and Gurren tossed in 28, including that final set to Eubanks.
Courtney Grafton and Lauren Schneidtmiller did most of the defensive digging, 17 and 15 respectively. But, it was a pair of back-to-back digs in the second set that might have reminded everyone who Georgetown is. Sophomore Kristen Schellhaas twice dove from almost the opposite side of the court to keep a ball in play, eventually leading to a GC point. It is that type of will and determination that has sustained the Tigers throughout postseason.
Georgetown needed a fourth and fifth set victory against Campbellsville University to start this run. It was the first rally win of the season and the team followed it with another rally over Lindsey Wilson College.
The Tigers took it a bit easier on their fans in the opening round, going just four games to advance to Iowa. After opening a 2-0 lead, GC had to battle all the way to five against Park University to open pool play with a win.
Now Georgetown and Concordia University are the only two teams in Pool B that are undefeated. The pair square off at 4:15 pm Thursday, but no matter the outcome both advance to Friday. They will join 10 other teams in a single-elimination portion. The top four teams of those left, will get a Friday morning bye – Georgetown is still holding a shot at one of those spots.
The other eight teams begin play with two matches at 11 am and two at 1:30 pm Friday. The winners advance to meet the four other teams in the quarterfinals – two matches at 6:45 pm and two at 9 pm.
Saturday's semifinals will be at noon with the championship set for 8 pm.
"One match at a time," Griffin said. "It is a huge match tomorrow against the No. 2 team in the nation. Concordia is defending national champions. This is going to be a fun match."