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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – PERFECTION.
In the final match of the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship, presented by J&L Enterprises and CNOS Foundation the top-seed University of Texas at Brownsville Ocelots women's volleyball team and No.3 Biola (Calif.) fought each other with everything that they had left and the Ocelots prevailed to win the 34th annual title match 27-25, 27-25, 25-22 on Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center.
With the win, UTB finishes as national champions and garner their first ever undefeated season at 37-0 in school's history as a member of the NAIA.
"This team deserves it so much. This is the fourth one for me but maybe the most special. Basically this is a yearlong of work and I don't have words to describe it." Coach Todd Lowery said. "I feel that we accomplished what we set out to do but most importantly they accomplished what they most deserved; to go out and take it."
UTB, ranked first since the Oct. 22 poll, earned the three-set win over the Eagles to take home the second title in three years. Biola eliminated the defending champion, No. 2 Concordia (Calif.), in straight sets to advance to its first championship match since 1997 and third overall. The Ocelots defeated Texas Wayland Baptist Saturday morning in the other semifinal game to advance to the championship match.
In the championship game UTB was on their heels for most of the set until coach Lowery called a timeout and settled the team down. After the time out, the Ocelots responded and won the set and went on to win a close fought second set.
"I feel that the first set really decided the match. They were playing as good as they could play and I remember looking over down five and thinking it was going to be a really long night if they kept up playing like that." Lowery said. "I called a timeout and told them that it was as good as they could play and to weather the storm and our girls hung in there and fought point by point to get back and it swung the tide in our favor."
UTB was led by Vanja Joksic with 13 kills. Danica Markovic and Annelies Dokter both ended the match with 12 kills each. Ana Guerra had 7 kills and 3 blocks.
It's going to be fun enjoying this title but coach Lowery knows that if they want to continue the championship streak they need to get back to work as soon as they get to Brownsville.
"Hey, got to go back to work. Start over." Lowery said. "Perfect season but there is always next year so we are going to enjoy this one for a little bit and then get back at it."
Markovic was named the tournament's most valuable player for the second time in three years. All tournament selections for UTB were Guerra and Joksic.