CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – No. 1 Central Arkansas earned its second consecutive bid to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament after it held off a feisty No. 2 Northwestern State squad, 25-19, 25-20, 25-13, 25-14, 15-12 in the Southland Conference volleyball championship match at the Dugan Wellness Center.
"We were off of our game, we could not control the ball and I did not recognize this team,” said UCA coach David McFatrich after the Sugar Bears rally from two sets down and faced their first five-set match of the conference season. “When we went to intermission, I told the team just play UCA volleyball and we will be fine. We had to battle through adversity all season long and I knew that our team could come back and win. Our team went 21-0 in conference play and that just shows how special this team really is.”
UCA’s Marissa Collins was voted the MVP of the tournament. Heather Schnars and Jessica Nagy also made the all-tourney team.
“This was a stressful situation our team has never been down two sets this season,” Colliins said. “During the third set, we had to stick together in order to pull out a victory. We remembered when we were down to SFA last year during the conference tournament, and we had to fight back and stick to the game plan, so we can be conference champions.”
Collins had a double-double 47 assists and 19 digs to lead the Sugar Bears. Schnars finished with 16 kills and 12 digs.
“This is by far the best team we have played all year and certainly the best team that I have ever seen in this conference,” said NSU co-head coach Hugh Hernesman. “This was a tremendous team and for our team to take them five sets it just shows the type of team we really have.” They are a very good team and I am extremely proud of our team and this season.”
Central Arkansas will await its opponent when the 64-team field is announced at 8:30 p.m., on Dec. 1 on ESPNU.