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Conference Semifinals Set, Cal Baptist Captures Fifth NAIA NIT Championship


Details of the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship Finals became a little clearer as the twelve semifinalists were finalized while in NAIA play a "National Champion" was crowned.

Beginning in the East with the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), St. Francis and Rutgers-Newark advanced to meet George Mason and Penn State respectively in the EIVA Semifinals on April 27.

The Red Flash of St. Francis University hosted its first ever EIVA playoff match and swept Juniata on Saturday, April 22 to pick up its first playoff match victory in 13 years. St. Francis last won a playoff match in 1993. Jim Fazzini had 15 kills to lead the Red Flash and became the third player in school history to go over 700 kills for his career.

Brian Honsberger led the Scarlet Raiders of Rutgers-Newark into the EIVA Semifinals with 18 kills in a come-from-behind victory over Princeton. It was the third time this season that Princeton has taken the opening game of its match against Rutgers-Newark only to loose the match.

Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne (IPFW), Ball State and Ohio State won Quarterfinal matches in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Championship and will join Loyola-Chicago in Chicago for the Semifinal matches on April 27.

The Mastodons used 15 kills by C.J. Macias as part of a 40 kill attack that overwhelmed the Coleman Division Tournament Champion and Division III powerhouse Carthage in three games. IPFW returns to the MIVA Semifinals for the second consecutive season and will be matched up against Ball State in Chicago.

Ball State swept Division II MIVA member Mercyhurst behind the Nick Meyer's 10 kills in a match that saw 13 Cardinal players see action.

Andy Cole's 20 kills and .444 hitting (20-4-36) led Ohio State past Quincy and into a Semifinal match against Shondell/Dunlap Division champion Loyola-Chicago, which received a bye in the Quarterfinal round.

With the National Rankings nearly mirroring the seedings in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championship, the biggest upset of the weekend came as UCLA upended Hawaii in Honolulu during the MPSF Quarterfinals. The Bruins, who had defeated UCSB earlier in the week to earn the right to travel to Hawaii, were led by Steve Klosterman and Nick Scheftic, who had 14 kills each in the 3-1 victory. UCLA carries a 10 match winning streak into its semifinal meeting with Pepperdine.

The Waves swept Cal State Northridge to end the Matadors' season for the fourth time in the last five years and advance to the MPSF Semifinals. Freshman Paul Carroll's 17 kills led the Pepperdine attack that hit .319 for the match.

Long Beach State was victorious in four games over Brigham Young and with the victory set up a clash between the nation's two top teams. The 49ers' victory propelled them to the No. 2 ranking and a meeting with UC Irvine, the nation's No. 1 team, on Thursday, April 27. Long Beach enters the contest with a five-match winning streak while the Anteaters have won their last 21 matches.

In NAIA competition, Cal Baptist continues to finish seasons at the top of the NAIA heap.

The Lancers won their third consecutive NAIA National Invitational Tournament championship with a 3-0 victory over top-seeded Lindenwood University behind the play of tournament MVP Shamsu Awudu, who registered 24 kills and hit .391 (24-6-46) in a match that was close in many statistical categories.

Both teams hit efficiently (.333 for Lindenwood versus .336 for Cal Baptist), dug well (28 digs a piece), and blocked (seven team blocks for the Lions versus eight for the Lancers) but the advantage in terms of points went entirely to Cal Baptist, which won its fifth overall NAIA NIT crown in front of a home crowd of 1,210.

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