The Lady Bears volleyball team headed south to Dallas, Texas over this past weekend for the opening rounds of the NCCAA National Tournament. First up was a four team double elimination tournament in the Southwest Regional. At stake was a trip to the final rounds of nationals in Kissimmee, Fla. starting Nov. 11. While the Bears came in as the lowest seed, having lost their six regular season region matches, they believed they were capable of shaking up the tournament and surprising some teams.
First up for the Bears was #1 seed Arlington Baptist College (Arlington, Texas). The Patriots proved they were worthy of their top seed and easily dispatched the Bears to start off the region tournament, 25-12, 25-9, and 25-11. Coming off such a frustrating loss, the Bears were going to have to dig deep and get refocused for their next match against the Saints of Hillsdale Free Will Baptist (Moore, Okla.).
In their previous matches against Hillsdale, Barclay had lost in 4 sets both times. However, their ability to take a few sets from the Saints during the regular season gave the Bears some confidence. In addition, Hillsdale was fresh off a straight sets loss to Dallas Christian College. The stage was set for the Bears to break through. The motivated and focused Bears roared out to a two set lead, including a 32-30 second set win. The third and fourth sets were also hard fought with long rallies, but ultimately found the Saints on top each time. As the Bears entered only their second fifth set of the season, they knew they would have to play to the best of their ability to pull out the win. And that is what they did. They beat Hillsdale 15-13 to secure their first region win in more than five years.
“After a rough start in the regional tournament, I was thrilled with the effort and focus the girls brought to the Hillsdale match,” said head coach Larry Lewis. “Hillsdale had beaten us twice during the regular season, so it was good to raise our level of determination and give a complete effort for the win. The girls deserved this win with their single-minded motivation to walk off the court giving their all.”
Saturday morning was the next match for the Lady Bears. Their opponent was tournament host Dallas Christian. The winner would get one more crack at top-seeded Arlington for that coveted automatic birth to Florida. Although the Bears showed great energy and scrappiness, they could not withstand the strong hitters from Dallas and dropped the match in straight sets, 20-25, 12-25, and 19-25. The loss concluded the Bears season with an overall record of 8-17.
“The girls battled the most athletic team we faced all season, and played with a “never say die” attitude,” concluded Lewis. “Although this match ended our season, the girls could walk off the court with the satisfaction of giving their best. Each of these girls were vital to our teams improvement and success this season. The victories in life aren’t always in wins and losses, but in representing Christ through competition.”
The Southwest Region honored those athletes who were named to the first and second all-region teams. Barclay was proud to have two freshman selected; Kaylie Fruh (Placentia, Calif.) was named to the second team while Alyssa Swonger (Pratt, Kans.) was a first team selection.