Sioux City, Iowa- On day one of the NAIA National Volleyball Tournament UTB/TSC team beat St. Francis (Ill.) in three straight sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-14). The game was the opening round match of pool play.
"Set one and set two we did a good job of getting in our system and hitting a real high percentage and just kind of got some rust off and game three made a few mistakes here and there and didn't push the serving game as much as game one and two." said head coach Todd Lowery.
In a game that lasted just a little over an hour UTB/TSC and St. Francis came out firing and dueled it out for the start of the first set and with a 12-10 lead UTB/TSC went on a 7-0 run to make it 19-10 to take control of the game and close it out at 25-14.
In the second set it was much of the same with both teams bringing a type of intensity only seen at the national tournament level. A service ace by Danica Markovic made the score 11-10 and again UTB/TSC went on another signature run this time an 8-0 run to make the set tally 18-10. Vanya Joksic imprinted the gym floor on two monster kills to make it 23-13 and three plays later UTB/TSC wrapped it up 25-14.
The third set turned out to be a contrast of the two first sets. This time around there would be no UTB/TSC run but they were resilient and never backed down from a determined St. Francis squad. With the score at 18-18 Markovic scored on a kill to take the lead and not look back. St. Francis kept it close but UTB/TSC put it away 25-23.
Leading UTB/TSC was Markovic with 13 kills, 5 service aces, and 7 digs. Michelle Marques collected 12 kills and 11 digs. Paula Barros was her steady self with 16 digs. Katarina Bursac dished out 35 assists.
Next up for UTB/TSC is the College of Idaho tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the second pool play of the week. UTB/TSC will play a total of three pool play games with the last one being played on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. against Westmont (Calif.).
"They (College of Idaho) are a big physical team with a lot of NCAA DI and D2 transfers and a very good blocking team because of their size. I think it's not a bad matchup for us but we need to stay in system because their blocking could give us a lot of problems." said Lowery.