No. 1 Parkland College Volleyball advanced to the 2019 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II National Tournament with consecutive sweeps over Southwestern Illinois College (25-12, 25-16, 25-15) and then, John Wood (25-10, 25-9, 25-6), in the Central A District Championship match. NJCAA DII Nationals will be held in Charleston, West Virginia, November 21-23, at the Charleston Civic Center.
Following the championship match, sophomore outside hitter Ryleigh Warfel was named Region 24 Player of the Year, and Head Coach Cliff Hastings was named Coach of the Year. Teammates of Warfel who were also named First Team All-Region 24 were: sophomore outside hitter Abigail Burnett, sophomore middle hitter Paige Yoder, sophomore defensive specialist Brooke Norder, and sophomore setter Rachel Verdun. Sophomore outside hitter Amanda Greening was named to Second Team All-Region.
"I'm really proud of the progress these girls have made on the year, Hastings said. "They have continuously worked hard at practice which translates to fun and success in the matches. They have trusted the process, and I think we are peaking at the right time heading into Nationals. We are excited about the opportunity to go to Nationals for the 12th straight year. It takes a little luck to win it all, but the girls and coaches have done the right things to give us the chance to do it."
Now 54-2 on the season, Parkland will be making its 12th 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. Last season, Parkland finished as National Runner-up.
In match 1 (SWIC), Summerlyn Smith (24 assists) and Rachel Verdun (11 assists) set up Mallory Bergbower (10 kills) and Paige Yoder (9 kills, 3 blocks) who led the team to 43 team kills. Defensively, Brooke Norder (13 digs) and Ryleigh Warfel (11 digs) helped to stifle the Blue Storm attack with assistance from Yoder and Dakota Harmon (3 blocks) at the net.
In the championship match, (John Wood), Parkland started of slowly and found themselves down 4-5. At that point, however, the team rattled off 14 straight points and never looked back. The offense blitzed the Blazers with a .485 hitting percentage behind 14 assists each from Rachel Verdun (14 assists) and Summerlyn Smith (14 assists). The Cobras hitting attack was led by Amanda Greening (10 kills) and Abigail Burnett (8 kills). The team produced 9 service aces led by Paige Yoder (3 aces). Defensively, three Cobras: Ellie Stone (9 digs), Brooke Norder (9 digs), and Ryleigh Warfel (9 digs), recorded 27 of the team's 50 digs, while the leader at the net was Hannah Benson (4 blocks).
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 on Saturday, November 23rd. For more information on the tournament and how to purchase tickets, click here.