Lady Cougars travel to Oregon for championship opening round

Despite a loss to Indiana Wesleyan University in the Crossroads League tournament championship last weekend, the Lady Cougars were awarded a berth in the NAIA National Volleyball Championship opening round.

MVNU (31-5) will travel to Salem, Oregon, for Saturday’s competition against host Corban University (22-6) in the opening round.

A win against the Warriors would guarantee MVNU a spot in NAIA tournament pool play, which begins Nov. 29 in Sioux City, Iowa. The 32 teams which make it to pool play will divide into eight pools of four, with the top two teams from each pool moving on to single elimination.

Sophomore Kristen Osborn said she and the Cougars have to be at their best to win on Saturday.

“The biggest factors will be our determination to play as a team and be as consistent as possible,” Osborn said. “It really comes down to having a passion to win no matter what the circumstances are.”

In the conference finals on Saturday, Indiana Wesleyan knocked out the Cougars 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-21). IWU went undefeated in Crossroads League play this season, and handed the Lady Cougars three of their five losses.

Osborn picked up 13 kills and junior Ashley Gingerich scooped up 11 digs in Saturday’s loss.

Last week, the Lady Cougars beat out Taylor University 3-0 in Wednesday’s Crossroads League semifinals.

Three Lady Cougars recorded double-digit kills in the Lady Cougars’ victory. Senior Annelise Rohrer led the offensive attack with 14 while Osborn and junior Kelsey Bryte picked up 12 each.

Swanson said the Cougars made him proud with their play.

“In the first two games, our defense was smothering and gave them no confidence,” Swanson said.

After the Cougars went down early in set three, the ladies fought back to stay alive in the tournament. Swanson said he loved the way his team competed.

“We showed some competitive will when we were down,” Swanson said.

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