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The KWU Coyotes celebrate the final point in Wesleyan's 4-set win over Oklahoma Baptist in the NAIA Opening Round
The KWU Coyotes celebrate the final point in Wesleyan's 4-set win over Oklahoma Baptist in the NAIA Opening Round
Sat, Nov. 19, 2011 - [Volleyball]

It had never been done before by a team from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference since the NAIA went to Direct Qualification in 2008, and it hadn't been done by a team from the KCAC since 1981. The Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes pulled off an epic upset of the No. 20 ranked Oklahoma Baptist Bison in four sets on Saturday night at Mabee Arena – 25-20, 15-25, 25-11, 25-21 – to advance to the NAIA Volleyball National Championships Final Site for the first time in school history.


No team from the KCAC had ever made it past the NAIA Opening Round since the Association went to the Direct Qualification model in 2008, and it had been 27 years prior to that, in 1981, that any team from the KCAC had advanced beyond the Regional or District Championship play to the NAIA National Tournament.

The fourth set was a barn burner. Wesleyan led 16-15 when Oklahoma Baptist's Tarah Dereden put down a kill to tie the score at 16-all. The Coyotes answered back with a Kelsey Boyles kill and a hitting error by OBU to take a 18-16 lead, that would prove to be insurmountable for the Bison.


OBU drew within a point the last time at 21-20 on a hitting error by the Coyotes before Wesleyan slammed the door shut on the match. Leah Keller responded with a kill, followed by another by Megan Ast to give Wesleyan a 23-20 lead and force a OBU timeout. 


OBU got a point on a block by Derden and Chassie Hamilton to make it 23-21. The Coyotes calmly turned to freshman Melissa Blair to finish the match. Blair hammered a ball home between two OBU defenders off a set by Chelsea Myers to set up match point for the Coyotes, and Myers went back to Blair again who rocketed a ball to the back line for the match winner.


Blair, who only had 3 kills all night saved her best two for last to send the Coyotes to Sioux City.


In the opening set, the Coyotes opened out to a 4-2 lead and later led 7-3 before the Bison came back and took the lead at 10-9 on a kill by Kristin Pressley. The Coyotes got 2 points to answer back and take an 11-10 lead before falling behind again at 12-13 on a kill by OBU's Tasha White.


That's when Wesleyan's offense got going, thanks mostly to errors by OBU. Wesleyan tied the match at 13 on a OBU hitting error and would score 4 of the next 5 points on OBU errors to take a 18-13 lead. Wesleyan pushed its lead out to 23-15 on a kill by Ast before Oklahoma Baptist would score the next 3 points to get within 5 at 23-18. The Coyotes would take the opening set 25-20 on a block by Jordyn Rahlf and Boyles.


Wesleyan fell behind early and couldn't catch up in the second set. OBU powered out to an 11-5 lead that prompted a KWU timeout. The Coyotes fell further behind, trailing by as much as 11 points, the first time at 17-6 and never got closer than 6 points the rest of the set. Wesleyan did try to rally, putting together a 5-point run capped by a Ast kill that made it 19-13, but OBU scored 6 of the last 8 points to take the set 25-15.


Fueled by a raucous crowd of Coyote fans, Wesleyan rallied in the third set. The Coyotes wasted no time in controlling the match, taking a 10-1 lead on a dump kill by Juli Miles. OBU scored the next 3 points to make it 10-4 only to see the Coyotes answer back with 3 points of their own to regain the 9 point advantage. The Coyotes led 23-10 at one point before taking the set 25-11 on a Boyles kill.


Wesleyan fell behind to open the fourth set, trailing 8-5 after White's kill for the Bison. Wesleyan answered back, using a hitting error by White and back-to-back kills off overpasses by Breanne Schultz to tie the set at 8-all.


OBU got the next 3 points to take an 11-8 lead again and led 12-9 before the Coyotes came roaring back. Wesleyan scored 4 of the next 5 points to tie the set at 13-all. OBU took a 14-13 lead on a serving error. The Coyotes tied the set back up at 14, and then again at 15 before taking a 16-15 lead to set up the crazy finish.


Wesleyan got 12 kills by Keller to lead the offense, while Boyles and Ast added 6 each. Miles had 20 assists and Myers 12. The big stat of the night was the Coyote defense, paced by Boyles with 22 digs, while Pauline Yang had 19 and Marlene Yang had 15. The Coyote block was huge again tonight led by Schultz with 5 total blocks.


Oklahoma Baptist got 15 kills by Pressley and 10 from Skyler Strahm. Sabra Clark had 30 assists and Lindsey Harshaw had 12. The Bison also had four double-digit diggers led by Pressley with 18.


Kansas Wesleyan advances to the 2011 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Final Site at the Tyson Events Center / Gateway Arena in Sioux City, Iowa starting November 29 and running through December 3. The NAIA National Championships begin with pool play in six four-team pools with the top 2 teams from each pool reaching bracket play en route to the National Championship.


Pool play assignments and schedules will be released by the NAIA National Office next week.

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