MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Three is a charm for Indiana Wesleyan University volleyball. Indiana Wesleyan finally defeated Bethel (Ind.) for the first time in three tries this season and the win captured the third straight Crossroads League Tournament championship.
Indiana Wesleyan (28-10) will now play in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round in two weeks and reaches the national tournament for the third consecutive year. The Crossroads League Tournament championship is the 10th for Indiana Wesleyan under head coach Candace Moats in 12 seasons.
Bethel had defeated Indiana Wesleyan 3-0 in both regular season meetings this season. The two teams tied for the Crossroads League regular season championship with 16-2 records but Bethel was the top-seed in the tournament based on the head-to-head contests.
But tonight Indiana Wesleyan turned the tide and won 3-0. IWU won by scores of 25-18, 28-26, 25-22. Moats credited the senior class of Rae Brandes, Rebecca Brandes, and Kristine Egebrecht for willing the team to victory in Mishawaka tonight.
“Tonight was a very special night,” said Moats. “Our three seniors showed leadership like I’ve never seen before. All day today they assured their young team that they had it and they believed in them. The team then came out with the most composure and poise in an environment that was just extremely hard. For me, the greatest victory was the composure and the poise that was shown in this gym against an incredibly good team in Bethel.”
Rae Brandes continued her dominant play this season with 19 kills and 16 digs while her sister Rebecca Brandes added 20 digs from the back row.
“I’ve not seen the three seniors play as well as they did tonight,” continued Moats. “Rae Brandes and Rebecca Brandes were off the chart. Becca was everywhere, like a vacuum picking up balls. Every ball Rae touched she knew where it was going to go and she knew she was putting it down.”
The underclassmen also made quite a difference on Saturday as freshmen Remy Bucknor and Sarah Collicott each killed 10 opportunities. Sophomore setter Katey Holler added 50 assists in the victory.
Indiana Wesleyan will have to wait two weeks before playing in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round on November 23. IWU will learn its opening round opponent on Monday, November 18. Be sure to check iwuwildcats.com for all the tournament information as it becomes available.