Concordia-St. Paul claims sixth national championship after defeating Tampa
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The dynasty continues – Concordia-St. Paul (33-4) claimed its record-tying sixth consecutive Division II Volleyball Championship on Saturday night, defeating Tampa (31-5) in an epic five-set thriller (27-29, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23, 16-14) on the campus of the West Florida.
After dropping the first two sets of the match, head coach Brady Starkey commented on what he told the team in between the second and third sets: "We've got em right where we want 'em. This is you guys all the way. Nothing will feel better than coming back from down 0-2 and to win in five. And in the huddle, I never looked at them and saw that they were defeated, they were all like 'we're good!' and they were..."
The win improves Concordia's NCAA tournament win streak to 36 consecutive matches, as its all-time NCAA Tournament record improves to 44-4 in 10 appearances. Concordia is now 6-1 in seven trips to the national championship, all under the direction of head coach Brady Starkey. Concordia has played in seven championship matches under Starkey in his 10 years at the helm of the program.
Concordia has defeated Tampa twice in the NCAA Championship match twice in the last three years, also doing so in 2010 in four sets in Louisville, Ky. It's the third-straight year that Concordia has eliminated Tampa at the national tournament, winning in three sets last year in the national semifinals in San Bernardino, Calif.
Concordia ties the NCAA record (all divisions) in the sport of volleyball for consecutive national championships, joining Washington-St. Louis (1991-96) at the Division III level. Concordia's six total titles stand alone at the Division II level.
The Golden Bears were led by senior Ellie Duffy with 23 kills. Junior Kayla Koenecke also reached double figures, posting 20 kills and 15 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. Sophomore Ashley Murtha led the defense with 18 digs.
Junior Amanda Konetchy produced 72 assists -- the fifth highest total in a single match in school history.
Concordia's four All-Americans: Cassie Haag, Konetchy, Duffy and Koenecke were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Duffy commented on the strength of the program, "You come in and work hard and do what him and George tell you and good things are going to happen. I think he shies away from the credit, but they have a lot to do with how successful this program has been."