GODFREY, Ill. — The No. 2 Parkland Volleyball team advanced to 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Nationals with a 3-0 sweep of Lincoln Trail (25-11, 25-9, 25-9) on Saturday in the District J Championship match.
NJCAA DII Nationals will be held in Charleston, W. Va, November 15–17, at the Charleston Coliseum Convention Center.
Following the match, freshman setter Rachel Verdun was named Region 24 Player of the Year and Head Coach Cliff Hastings was named Coach of the Year. Verdun was also named First Team All-Region, as was sophomore middle blocker Shelby Nunamaker, freshman libero Brooke Norder and freshman outside hitter Ryleigh Warfel. Sophomore Katelyn Riffle was named to Second Team All-Region.
"The team is coming together and peaking at the right time of the year," Hastings said. "They have put together a great body of work throughout the season, but we've played these 55 matches to prepare for these final six matches. The girls have done all the right things to be efficient and successful at the two district matches. Now we march forward at Nationals for four more."
Now 53-2 on the season, Parkland will be making its 11th consecutive trip to the National tournament, a streak that dates back to 2008. The Cobras have won three National Titles (1999, 2015, 2016), and have not missed the tournament since Hastings took over in 2009. The Cobras will enter the 2018 tournament on a 17-match winning streak, their second longest of the 2018 season.
Again dominant, the Cobras' offense blitzed the Lincoln Trail defense to the tune of a .487 hitting percentage behind setter Rachel Verdun's 34 assists. Committing just six total attack errors, and just two in the final two sets, the Cobras attack was led by 10 kills from freshman outside hitter Ryleigh Warfel who hit .368 overall. Freshman Amanda Greening added in eight kills of her own, on an errorless .727 hitting percentage, while sophomore middle blockers Maddie Allen and Shelby Nunamaker each contributed six kills with only one error between them.
Boosting the offense was a service game that totaled 12 aces in just three sets. Setter Ashley King led the servers with three aces, while Warfel and Ellie Stone each had two.
In addition to leading the team in kills, Warfel also helped steady the back row with nine digs to lead the Cobras. Maggie Sorensen added in seven digs, while Brooke Norder and Stone both chipped in six.
A 16-team field, the NJCAA DII National Tournament is a double-elimination format with the final two teams facing off in the DII National Championship match at 4:30 p.m. Central Time Saturday, Nov. 17. For more information on the tournament and how to purchase tickets, visit the Charleston Convention Center website.
[Article by Chad Beyler]