SIOUX CITY, IOWA — The Coyote volleyball team put itself in prime position to advance to the championship bracket at the NAIA national tournament thanks to a 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 upset of No. 10 Taylor (Ind.) in the team’s first match of pool play Tuesday.
“It was huge,” C of I coach Liz Mendiola said of the win. “We knew, playing the second-seed in our pool right off the bat, we knew this was a really big match for us and the girls were ready to go.”
Senior setter Naomi Reimer led the way for the Coyotes, recording a triple-double with 18 kills, 17 assists and 10 digs.
Along with setting, Reimer is one of the Coyotes’ top hitters, but had not been able to play her right-side hitter spot prior to nationals because of a shoulder injury.
Fellow senior setter Madie Machurek added 32 assists and 13 digs for the C of I, while senior libero Whitney Owen had 22 digs and senior middle blocker Sarah Harris had 12 kills.
“The first two games we really, we just took care of the ball, we passed well, we served well, we kept them out of system,” Mendiola said.
The Trojans (34-7) rallied from a 20-17 deficit late in the third set, spoiling a potential sweep by the Coyotes in the schools’ first-ever volleyball meeting.
Next up for the 16th-ranked C of I (24-5) is No. 3 Fresno Pacific (Calif.) today, a team the Yotes have yet to beat in three tries. A win by the Coyotes, combined with a win by Taylor over the fourth team in the pool, Shawnee State (Ohio), would secure a spot in the next round for the C of I.
“(Fresno Pacific’s) definitely a good team, they’re really big, but I like our chances of putting up a good fight,” Mendiola said.
The top two teams from each of six pools advance to the single-elimination championship bracket beginning Friday.