Isabel Wedell was literally thanking teammate Jackie Meiklejohn for using her head Thursday night in Sioux City, Iowa.
A Columbia College (Missouri) attack off the sophomore setter's noggin was a point eventually won by the University of Jamestown in a tiebreak race to 25 that concluded NAIA championship tournament pool play for the Jimmies at the Tyson Events Center. UJ seniors Wedell, Britta Knudson, Miranda Lowman, Jordan Thomas and the Jimmies play on, having advanced to Friday's 16-team elimination bracket by defeating the Cougars 25-19.
Jamestown will play Lindsey Wilson (Kentucky) tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the program's second trip to the national tournament's Sweet 16 since 2017.
"Their outside just hammered it and it went right off Jackie's head and then back over," Wedell said. "We played out the point and got it.
"It all changed from then on."
The heady play set the stage for UJ's tiebreak-winning 7-0 run that ended the set and sent the 2018 national tournament runner-up Cougars home early. Thomas and sophomore Taylor Sabinash found the floor twice for kills, junior Corina Ruud also landed a spike and Wedell connected for an ace.
Sophomore Anna Holen ended it for UJ with a back-row kill, as Wedell proudly directed UJ's final six points from the service line.
"I'm so happy for them," Wedell said of her teammates. "They played awesome. It was a perfect ending to the day."
Columbia, a program with four national championships under its belt, had swept UJ 3-0 earlier Thursday to set up the 10:45 p.m. tiebreak that decided the No. 2 seed out of Pool H. Westmont (California) had already advanced via set victories after all three teams finished pool play at 2-1.
"That ball that Jackie Meiklejohn dug with her head that went over the net and came back and then we scored a point. That changed it," said Jamestown head coach Jon Hegerle in an interview with AM 1400 ESPN Jamestown. "We just needed a break. Earlier this afternoon we got no breaks ... sometimes that happens and if you let that define you then it happens more and more.
"We just talked about it. Expect good things to happen," Hegerle continued. "Expect the best to happen, expect the best out of yourself, and I thought our players just did that."
Wedell played in UJ's first trip to the round of 16 as a sophomore in 2017, recording nine kills in a 3-0 loss to Viterbo (Wisconsin). She was also on the court for the national tournament last season when Viterbo ended UJ's tournament via tiebreaker 25-21.
Jamestown is no stranger to the NAIA's late-night tiebreak system that can abruptly end the careers of outstanding senior athletes. The Jimmies also fell to Missouri Baptist in national tournament tiebreak fashion in 2016.
Wedell said the Jimmies never let losing enter their minds Thursday.
"We just went out there and said this is our time," Wedell said. "From the moment we lost (earlier Thursday) to the moment we started playing, everyone was absolutely jacked."
Jamestown has set a program record 31 match victories this fall and the magical season continues against the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders. The Jimmies fell to the eventual national champion Blue Raiders in pool play in 2017.
"Hopefully we can relax enough to go to bed," Wedell said. "But it's the Sweet 16 so we're going to be ready."
NAIA Women's Volleyball Championship
At Tyson Events Center
Sioux City, Iowa
Pool Play (Pool H)
(9) Columbia College 3, (8) Unviersity of Jamestown 0
CC 29 25 25
UJ 27 22 15
CC -- Kills: Sidney Branson 17, Kiersten Anderson 16, Jaqueline Silva 8, Bailee Ulery 6, Luisa Ferreira. Assists: Ferreira 39. Aces: Silva 2, Ferreira, Raven Buckley. Digs: Anderson 17, Silva 14, Ellie Rockers 14. Blocks: Erika Miller 3, Silva.
UJ -- Kills: Corina Ruud 9, Jordan Thomas 6, Taylor Sabinash 5, Isabel Wedell 3, Britta Knudson 3, Ellie Michaletz 3, Anna Holen 2, Miranda Lowman. Assists: Lowman 14, Jackie Meiklejohn 13. Aces: Hannah Schiele, Sydney Ellingson. digs: Holen 16, Ellingson 13, Schiele 8, Meiklejohn 7, Lowman 5, Wedell 3, Thomas, Ruud. Blocks: Knudson 2.5, Ruud 2, Wedell 1.5, Ruud 1.5, Holen, Sabinash, Thomas.
Records: Columbia 29-6. Jamestown 31-5.
(8) University of Jamestown 3, (RV) Xavier (Louisiana) 1 (25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17)
(RV) Westmont (California) 3, (9) Columbia (Missouri) 0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-22)
Jamestown 3, Westmont 1 (25-22, 22-25, 31-29, 25-19)
Columbia 3, Xavier 1 (25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 25-18)
Westmont 3, Xavier 0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-17).
Columbia 3, Jamestown 0 (29-27, 25-22, 25-15)
Jamestown 25, Columbia 19.