No. 1 Parkland College Volleyball will play for the NJCAA Division II National Title today (Saturday, November 23) at 4:30 pm Central Time after defeating 15th-ranked and 12th-seeded Bismarck State (North Dakota). The victory came in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-14) on Friday evening at the Charleston Civic Center. The Cobras' opponent on Saturday night will be the 4th-ranked Scottsdale Artichokes who won a stunning come-from-behind upset victory over two-time defending national champion and 2nd-ranked Coffeyville.
Cobras Volleyball will be making its sixth National Championship match appearance in the last six years, and seventh in program history. After winning the National Title in its first appearance back in 1999, the Cobras advanced to the title match in five straight seasons under Coach Hastings, taking home the hardware in 2015 and 2016. The 2019 Championship match can be streamed live on NJCAATV.com.
In tonight's match, the opposing Mystics played solidly, holding the lead throughout most of set one. Parkland managed a two-point lead at 6-4, and held one-point advantages only 5 times, before taking the lead for good at 20-19. Sophomore Abigail Burnett (12 kills), from St. Joseph, IL, had 7 kills in set one alone, including 3 of Parkland's final 4 points, to secure the initial set for the Cobras.
Set two played out much the same, with Bismarck State taking the lead at 5-6 and keeping it until late. After a Parkland timeout, down 13-16, the Cobras rattled off 6 of the following 7 points. Sophomore Ryleigh Warfel (16 digs, 9 kills) from Downs, IL, smacked down one of her 6 kills in set two to finally take the lead at 18-17. The Mystics regained a two-point lead at 19-21, but an Ellie Stone (17 digs, 2 aces) ace and two Paige Yoder (10 kills) kills led Parkland to the important second set win.
In set three, the talent and experience of the Cobras took over as Parkland never trailed. Off of setters Summerlyn Smith (20 assists) and Rachel Verdun (16 assists, 7 kills, 10 digs), teammates Burnett, Yoder, Warfel, and Amanda Greening (8 kills) led the team to 54 total kills. At the same time, Bismarck State attacks were stymied as Brooke Norder (19 digs), Stone, Warfel, Verdun, and Gabby Wessels (10 digs) combined for 72 of the team's 87 total digs. Strong at the net, Hannah Benson (6 blocks, 5 kills) played a part in 2/3 of the team's 9 total blocks.