University of Jamestown didn't squander the 14 days it had to get ready for the 2018 NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship Opening Round held Saturday, Nov. 17, at Harold Newman Arena.
The 24th-ranked Jimmies were already hard at work last Monday when they found out they'd be hosting Haskell Indian Nations University (Kan.) to begin national playoff competition. Junior middle blocker Britta Knudson scored a team-high eight kills and four blocks for the Jimmies, and Jamestown is headed back to national championship pool play for a third straight season with a 3-0 sweep of Haskell.
NAIA pool play begins Nov. 27 at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Pool assignments will be announced by 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.
"We worked really hard these past two weeks," said Knudson, whose 22-8 Jimmies were ousted 3-1 from the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals by Midland University on Nov. 3 in Fremont, Neb. "We were really fired up, just because we always had nationals as our end goal.
"We knew (Haskell) used their middles a lot, so we were really prepared to go up and block with them."
A 5-1 Jimmie run in the opening set put the home team ahead 16-9 and set the tone in a 25-17 Jamestown victory. Knudson scored two kills and one of her four block assists during the run, which also saw kills off the hands of senior right side Kennedy Conzemius and sophomore outside Ellie Michaletz.
A string of four straight unforced Haskell errors aided an early 8-3 Jimmie lead in set 2. The Indians committed 10 attacking errors in the frame and the Jimmies dominated 25-8.
Haskell was making its second appearance in the NAIA women's volleyball opening round, losing at Bellevue University (Neb.) 3-0 in the same national playoff match in 2016. Haskell (11-22) won the Association of Independent Institutions conference tournament held Nov. 9-10 in Lincoln, Ill., to earn its date with the Jimmies.
The Indians were led Saturday by junior middles Alliyah Richards and Cailey Lujan with eight kills each.
"I can't thank the University of Jamestown, the athletic department and Sean (Johnson) and Jon (Hegerle) enough for just being so hospitable," said Haskell head coach Nana Allison-Brewer. "The whole community has been so welcoming and they've just made this event very special for our players.
"We were here two years ago with another young squad, and we can see where the youngness still is in our mindset. But it's a great thing for us to build upon and continue to build our program."
Jamestown opened the third set with four straight kills-two by sophomore Jayla Ritter and the others sent down by Knudson and Michaletz-and the Jimmies never looked back in a 25-16 win. Jamestown junior right side Isabel Wedell scored one of her five kills for match point.
GPAC libero of the year Julina Niemier led the Jimmies with 11 digs, senior outside Kori Buchanan scored two ace serves and setters Miranda Lowman (16) and Jackie Meiklejohn (10) combined for 26 assists.
"I thought for the most part we played error-free and did the stuff we wanted to do, and stopped what we wanted to stop," said Jimmie coach Jon Hegerle. "My concern with (Haskell) is they have such a great spirit on their team on that side. They have a great can-do attitude and that's a great testament to their coaches. We knew they were going to keep coming after us and they did."
Jamestown advanced to the 16-team elimination bracket of the NAIA national tournament for the first time in program history last season in Sioux City.
"I always thought if we got to Sioux City with this group it would be a great season," Hegerle said. "Certainly losing some of the players we did people thought it was going to be down year, and we just thought, 'No, it's just going to be a new year.'"
Knudson said: "We're blessed with this opportunity, so we're just hoping for the best."
2018 NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship Opening Round
Saturday at Harold Newman Arena
(24) Jamestown 3, Haskell Indian Nations University 0
Haskell 17 8 16
Jamestown 25 25 25
Haskell-Kills: Alliyah Richards 8, Cailey Lujan 8, Christine Mousseau 4, Sydney Dray 3, Amber Whitehair. Assists: Whitehair 19. Digs: Sophia Honahni 18, Whitehair 5, Lujan 5, Shelly Nez 5, Richards 5.
Jamestown-Kills: Britta Knudson 8, Ellie Michaletz 6, Corina Ruud 5, Isabel Wedell 5, Jordan Thomas 3, Kennedy Conzemius 3, Jayla Ritter 2, Kori Buchanan 2, Sydney Ellingson. Miranda Lowman, Jackie Meiklejohn. Assists: Lowman 16, Meiklejohn 10, Julina Niemeier 2, Michaletz. Aces: Buchanan 2, Meiklejohn, Lowman. Digs: Niemeier 11, Lowman 9, Anna Holen 8, Meiklejohn 5, Buchanan 4, Knudson 4, Michaletz 4, Conzemius 2, Ellingson 2, Wedell, Thomas. Blocks: Knudson 4, Thomas 3, Ruud 2, Michaletz 2, Wedell.
Records: Jamestown 22-8. Haskell Indian Nations 11-22.