Jan. 26, 2020
Biola's season came to an end on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, a few hours earlier than the team would have liked, but the Eagles went down swinging and left it all on the court during their five-set loss (23-25, 25-20, 29-27, 16-25, 15-12) to the No. 2 Park Pirates.
The Eagles became the first team to force Park to five sets this season before ultimately getting saddled with the loss that sent the now 39-0 Park team into a date with No. 5 Texas-Brownsville in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship match.
This is the second time in three years that Biola's season comes to a close with a semifinal loss. Last year, Biola was the NAIA runner-up to Texas-Brownsville, who looks to repeat tonight.
It was a back-and-forth battle all afternoon long between two of the very best teams in the NAIA, definitely qualifying as the best match of the entire 24-team tournament to this point.
Park took the early lead in the match with a first set win, but Biola surged through the next two, including an emotional come-from-behind win to close out the third set.
Headed into the final two sets it turned into a pure battle of experience and consistency, Biola, versus the new kids on the block, Park.
Park grabbed the momentum immediately in set four, rattling off eight straight points to begin the set after receiving quite the talking to from their head coach, Mike Talamantes.
It was errors that cost Biola early in that set, as they commited three attacking errors and allowed a service ace to Park in that eight-point run that effectively ended the set before it really began and guaranteed Biola's seventh five-set match of the season. They entered today 3-3 overall in such matches.
Both teams entered the final set exhausted after a physically demanding match that including a lot of out of system balls, blocks and long rallies, and the fatigue seemed to get the best of Biola's attack that was just not as effective at finding the floor and hit below .000 for the first time this tournament.
The Eagles had just six kills in the final set and ran into back-to-back blocks at the crucial part of the set that helped Park take a 12-10 lead, a lead never again relinquished.
The match point was won when Biola could not handle a Wendy Romero serve and sent the ball flying back over to Park's side on a free ball that was immediately crushed into the court by Salma Shahtout, giving Park the 15-12 win.
The loss was the final game of the Eagles' season, as they place third in the NAIA as the highest-seeded losing team on semifinal day.
It was the final day of the Biola career of Charley Parker, Jaci Schork and Amy Weststeyn, all three four-year seniors. The trio made it to the national finals once, semifinals twice and quarterfinals once, playing during one of the finest stretches of national success in Biola Volleyball history.
Weststeyn was her usual self in this one, leading Biola with 17 kills and getting set a ton over the final few sets as she tried to carry the team into the finals. She added one block and six block assists as Biola compiled 13 total stops against the vicious Park attack.
Park's front row helped the Pirates to the slightest of edges, compiling 15 total stuffs in the match and hitting about .070 higher than the Eagles because of it.
Schork ended her senior season with a five-dig performance and led Biola in service aces during the tournament. Parker tied for the team-lead with 14 digs in a solid performance.
Lauren Hoenecke had her strongest match of the tournament and was instrumental in Biola's ability to stage a comeback in the third set. She had seven kills on an efficient .353 attacking percentage and posted a few huge blocks, totaling 2.5.
Wendy Romero and Waness Siqueira handled essentially all of the attacking for the Pirates, totaling a combined 45 kills, more than 60 percent of Park's total tally. Romero also got in on seven blocks and added eight digs in a great all-around performance. Her serving was supposed to pose a challenge for Biola, but smart decisions from the Eagles' back row led to five service errors off the hand of the junior outside hitter.
The Eagles got to celebrate their season with a delicious, well-deserved steak dinner and now await the next challenge headed into the 2015 season. The postseason awards will be announced next week, with Biola sure to place a few on the all-tournament squad.
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