MARION, Ind. – A large crowd packed Luckey Arena and witnessed a historic night as No. 13-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University volleyball defeated Montreat (N.C.) College 3-0 in the 2011 NAIA National Championship Opening Round in Marion, Indiana.
Indiana Wesleyan (35-4) controlled the tempo all night long and defeated Montreat by scores of 25-13, 25-15, 25-17 in the first NAIA Volleyball National Championship match to ever be played at Indiana Wesleyan.
Besides hosting their first national championship contest, the victory was the first for the program in the NAIA National Championship. The Wildcats are now 1-1 at the national tournament while the Cavaliers drop their first match at the NAIA tournament.
"We loved having that chance to make the history of winning our first NAIA tournament win," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Candace Moats. "I'm really excited about what this can do to the program and I'm really looking forward to go out to Iowa and having the opportunity and the challenge of it. It's going to be pretty exciting."
Following a pair of emotional victories over rival Taylor (Ind.) University during the past two weeks, Indiana Wesleyan was a bit flat in the early stages of game one. But Indiana Wesleyan quickly turned it around and had their best offensive performance of the night during the first game to the tune of a .654 hitting percentage.
"There was a little lack of focus early on but we got things turned around pretty quick," said Moats. "The girls did what they had to do."
The hits continued to come in game two as Indiana Wesleyan hit .579 in the 25-15 win. Following the first two games, Indiana Wesleyan had 31 kills to just three errors.
Indiana Wesleyan received production from the bench in game three as 14 players saw the court in the set. IWU wrapped up the 3-0 win with a 25-17 win in the final set.
The Wildcats touted an impressive attack on Saturday with a team hitting percentage of .507. Leading the way was senior outside hitter Peyton Thompson with a match-high 16 kills and a .789 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle hitter Kristine Egebrecht added nine kills and a .727 hitting percentage.
Montreat (25-14) finished with just 25 kills in the match and a .115 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Alyssa Kaufman and freshman middle blocker Sydney Koon led the Cavaliers with seven kills apiece.
Two other Wildcats had great performances at the net. Senior middle blocker Lauryn Barfell and senior outside hitter Kate Denlinger each added eight kills with hitting percentages north of .400.
Junior setter Yui Iwase earned 42 assists and two service aces while senior libero Kelsey Masuda led all players with 10 digs.
Approximately 1,000 fans packed Luckey Arena for the first ever Indiana Wesleyan victory at the NAIA National Championship, something Moats noticed from the bench.
"I am so impressed with the crowd that we had here tonight. The loyalty of the fans that came out here was awesome. Absolutely awesome. I only have two words: Thank you. Thank you for coming out and supporting us."
The Wildcats continued their season-best win streak of 17 straight. IWU has won 29 of its last 30 matches.
Now Indiana Wesleyan will travel to Sioux City, Iowa to the final site of the 2011 NAIA Volleyball National Championship presented by CNOS on November 29-December 3.