By Mike DeVader, Reinhardt Director of Athletic Communications & Media
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – No. 24 Reinhardt and No. 10 Linsey Wilson (Ky.) battled to the very last whistle in the opening match of pool play in the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship, presented by Marriott South Sioux City River Front, as the Blue Raiders started fast and ended strong in a five-set victory over the Eagles, 3-2 (13-25,25-23,25-18,19-25,10-15).
The loss snapped a 27-contest winning streak for the hometown team as it got off to a sluggish start, recovered well, but ultimately fell back into old habits that it couldn't recover from in the end.
"Today was a very tough loss – we didn't play our best – and some of our girls definitely felt some nerves playing at the National Championship," head coach Brian Goodhind said. Even with us not playing anywhere near our best we had the No. 10 team in the country down, 2-1 with a chance to close. To our girls' credit they responded very well after playing our worst set of the season in set one to take a 2-1 lead.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in how we responded to having an opportunity to close out the match. My hopes are we back up our 1-0 philosophy and accept we went 0-1 today, and tomorrow is a new season where we try to go 1-0. To God goes all the Glory. #WePlayFor11."
The bright lights of Iowa did seem to catch Reinhardt (33-3) off guard in the opening stanza, as the Eagles put together one of their weakest showings in a long time on the court. That effort resulted in a 12-point loss in set one that saw the Appalachian Athletic Conference's top team hit a combined .156 and only nine kills.
Lindsey Wilson seemed on the verge of a possible smooth ride the rest of the way, but Reinhardt rebounded like a champion and showed the Blue Raiders in the next two games why they made it back to the Tyson Events Center.
The Eagles didn't hit much better statistically at .167 or .095, respectively, in sets two and three, but they were following the game plan to near perfection and taking a top ten team out of its element and putting Lindsey Wilson's back against the wall after back-to-back negative results.
Each club play strong volleyball in the middle portion of the match, as the Eagles and Blue Raiders went back-and-forth on the scoreboard throughout, with neither team getting more than a couple points away from the other. To tie things up at 1-1, Reinhardt overcame multiple late two-point deficits to finish the stanza on a 5-1 run, including four-straight tallies after being down, 23-21.
The momentum continued for the hometown squad in game three as it opened the set with a 7-2 lead. Before you knew it, however, the second-seeded team was back in front, 11-8, after its own 9-1 spree.
Reinhardt then swung back with all its might to the tune of an 12-1 scoring run – now 20-12 overall – thanks to strong offense and Lindsey Wilson mistakes.
The Blue Raiders would recover some on the back-end of the set, but the hole was too deep to dig out of in a 25-18 win for the Eagles and a 2-1 advantage.
Another hard-fought game ensued in set four, but Reinhardt failed to stay in the moment and allowed Lindsey Wilson to get another second wind in the matchup. The Blue Raiders were able to rise from the ashes and put together a couple big scoring runs to take the energy away from the Eagles as both teams looked head-on at a deciding set five.
An early 4-0 deficit for the hometown team turned into a 5-5 contest with 10 points to play, but that would be the closest Reinhardt would get to its opposition the rest of the way. Lindsey Wilson would claim the next two points and continuously stay in front of the Eagles all the way through the finish line.
Reinhardt would get within one score on multiple occasions, but the Blue Raiders always responded.
With the set, 11-10 in favor of Lindsey Wilson, the second-seed would notch a victory following four-straight points that included two kills, an Eagle error and a match-winning ace.
Reinhardt will look to avoid elimination tomorrow against top-seeded Eastern Oregon in an 11 a.m. EDT get-together.
The NAIA Network – the association's official video-streaming home – will broadcast 60 matches live at the 2019 NAIA Volleyball National Championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access to live video, statistics and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single-day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while a pool play pass is $24.95 (Dec. 3-5) and a championship package is available at $39.95. You can also buy an All-Championship pass and watch every championship streamed on the NAIA Network in 2019.
Buy your All-Championship Pass today.
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