Eagles win to advance in national championship tournament

Keisha Santana and Laina Blanton celebrate after the Eagles beat Missouri State-West Plains. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
Keisha Santana and Laina Blanton celebrate after the Eagles beat Missouri State-West Plains. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)

Rebounding from a tough loss yesterday and a slow start today, No. 6 Polk State beat No. 7 Missouri State-West Plains 3-2 in the 5th Place Semifinals at the NJCAA Division I Volleyball National Championship tournament in Casper, Wyo.

In the first set, the Eagles fell behind 0-5 and lost 15-25.

They bounced back to take the second game 25-18 before losing 23-25 in the third set.

The Eagles soared to a 25-17 victory in the fourth set.

They enjoyed a 10-5 lead in the final set, but after calling a timeout, West Plains scored seven unanswered points to tie the game at 11.

The Eagles fell behind 13-14 before rallying to score three straight points for a 16-14 win.

The Eagles advance to play No. 4 Iowa Western in the 5th Place Match tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

"We're excited," said Head Coach German Del Valle. "It's so hard to come back from the loss that we had yesterday, which knocked us out of the winner's bracket.

"We talked about it a lot, and I told the players that we have two choices: we can suck it up and compete for fifth in the nation, or we can pout and not play volleyball.

"Our blocking today was amazing. We made their hitters change their approach. This team never gave up."

The Eagles had 31 blocks in the match 

Yue Wu made 31 kills, 21 digs, and three blocks. 

Laina Blanton added eight blocks along with five kills, and three digs.

Dayanna Teixeira recorded 13 kills, 12 digs, nine assists, and four blocks.

Elisabeth Piroli contributed 27 assists, three blocks, two digs, and a kill.

Alejandra Robles finished with 21 assists, eight digs, and an ace.

Zoemy Barreto made nine digs, six kills, and six blocks.

Suheily Colon tallied seven blocks, six kills, and three digs.

Keisha Santana had 20 digs and three assists.

Nicole Boots added 13 digs and an assist.

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