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The best season ends

College volleyball: TMC women are eliminated in national tournament

Posted: December 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

By Jon Stein

Signal Staff Writer



The most successful season in The Master’s College women’s volleyball history came to a close Friday at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championships in Sioux City, Iowa.

After the Mustangs completed an improbable run Thursday just to make Friday’s elimination bracket, TMC was defeated by Oklahoma Baptist University of Shawnee, Okla., 27-25, 25-27, 25-22, 25-22.

The loss signals the end of the season for TMC (27-8), which rose to No. 6 in the final NAIA poll and made its first appearance in school history in the national tournament.

On Thursday, the Mustangs completed a four-set victory over Indiana Wesleyan University of Marion, Ind., and followed with consecutive one-set tiebreaker victories over Cal State San Marcos and Indiana Wesleyan to advance to Friday’s action.

“That was honestly one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of,” said TMC head coach Bobby Blanken. “We were down 0-2. It didn’t seem like we had a chance and we were told there was a small chance if the pool came into a three-way tie. All the dominoes fell.”

On Friday, the Mustangs again had their backs against the wall after losing the first set to Oklahoma Baptist (37-6) before tying things up in the second.

This time, though, TMC couldn’t complete the comeback.

The Mustangs stayed close in the third set, tying things up at 16-16 and staying within three points for the remainder of the match.

But consecutive kills by the Bisons’ Kristin Pressley sealed the set for Oklahoma Baptist.

The Mustangs stayed close again in the fourth set, tying the score 13-13 midway through on a kill by Sam Dougherty.

But the Bisons took control from there, taking a lead they would never relinquish on a kill by Skyler Strahm.

“We had our fair share of struggles and I don’t think we took care of business on our end,” Blanken said. “And as a result, the score was what it was. We had a hard time adjusting and they scored a few more points than we did. And at the end of the day it comes down to a few points.”

The experience of playing among the nation’s best teams isn’t something the Mustangs will forget anytime soon, though.

For a program that spent much of its history never in contention for a Golden State Athletic Conference title, much less a national championship, TMC is confident this season will mark the turning point for its program.

“That’s what we’ve been hoping for,” Blanken said. “I got (to TMC) three years ago and the program has never been something that’s been respectable on a national scale, let alone locally. That was our goal was I said to them, ‘find a way to make it more competitive.’ And the girls have really bought into the team culture, and to team commitment and our mission.”

TMC will lose four seniors off this year’s squad, including Rachel Taylor, who was third on the team with 225 kills, and Victoria Callihan, who led with 71 blocks and was second with 254 kills.

A pair of Hart High School recruits should help fill some of the holes, though, in Amy King and Sydney Hamilton.

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