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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | December 26, 2019

Cal State San Bernardino finishes perfect season with first national championship

Cal State San Bernardino wins 2019 DII volleyball national championship

With the 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20) victory over Nebraska-Kearney, Cal State San Bernardino took home its first national championship in DII women's volleyball. The final match was a showdown between undefeated teams.

2019 CHAMPIONSHIP: Interactive bracket | Printable bracket | Selection show

Alexis Cardoza and Stephanie Doak led the team with 20 kills each, while Leilia To'omalatai totaled 27 digs. Of the four sets, the Coyotes hit less than .300 once — that being the second set which they lost, 25-23.

The 2019 tournament included many twists and turns, but it ultimately led to the matchup of two unbeaten teams in the final match.

2019 DII women's volleyball championship: How the final match was won

Final: Cal State San Bernardino 3, Nebraska-Kearney 1

  • Set 1: Cal State San Bernardino 25, Nebraska-Kearney 22: This one went back-and-forth until the Coyotes earned a five-point lead (18-13). Stephanie Doak and Alexis Cardoza accounted for a combined 14 kills, while Leilia To'omalatai had six digs.
  • Set 2: Nebraska-Kearney 25, Cal State San Bernardino 23: What began as a redemption run for UNK turned into a set win for the Lopers. UNK started the set with a 6-2 lead and faced several pushes by the Coyotes, but Julianne Jackson's eight kills and Maddie Squiers' 22 assists led the Lopers to even the match. 
  • Set 3: Cal State San Bernardino 25, Nebraska-Kearney 17: This critical third set favored the Coyotes the entire way. With an impressive hitting performance (.324), Cardoza and Doak boosted their kill totals to 15, as To'omalatai increased her dig total to 19. The Coyotes are now one set away from their first national title.
  • Set 4: Cal State San Berdardino 25, Nebraska-Kearney 20: The Coyotes etched their name in history, winning their first national title in program history. The Coyotes hit .333 in the final set as Cardoza and Doak upped their kill totals to 20.

Here's how we previewed the match:

2019 DII women's volleyball finals: What to know about each team

Cal State San Bernardino vs. Nebraska-Kearney
This is it. Two teams left and nary a loss between them. Nebraska-Kearney enters as the No. 2 seed with a 38-0 record while Cal State San Bernardino is the top seed, sitting at 32-0. We've tracked both schools all season, and it is only fitting their ultimate conclusion comes with the trophy at stake.

UNDEFEATED TRACKER: Follow the Lopers, Coyotes run to the finals

When looking at the strengths of both teams, it's pretty easy to see what each team does well: everything. Here's a quick look at the numbers you should know:

Stat UNK CSUSB
Kills 1849 1509
Errors 508 393
Attack % .250 .314
Assists 1738 1389
Blocks 271.5 323.5

BOLD = Best in DII women's volleyball

What can you take away from these numbers? Well, a few things.

  • The Coyotes are tops in DII women's volleyball in both hitting percentage and blocks. Cal State San Bernardino has a lot of length and a big advantage over everybody they've played. It's not to say the Lopers don't have height, but the Coyotes have it everywhere — of the ten players on the court for the semifinals, only libero Leilia To'omalatai was below 5-11.
  • UNK needs to do something no other team has done this season: immobilize Alexis Cardoza. The unanimous AVCA DII national player of the year was third in DII women's volleyball with a 4.49 kills per set average behind a .345 hitting percentage. She paces this Coyotes' attack.
  • Cal State San Bernardino needs to watch out for this Lopers swagger. Nebraska-Kearney has done exceptionally well against nationally-ranked teams, a perfect 12-0 per our count. This is a team that doesn't fear anyone and brings the same level of energy every night: in 37 matches, they've gone to five sets just four times.

These are two teams that have been to the title match before, but haven't taken home the hardware. This is about a thrilling a matchup as we could have hoped for to conclude the 2019 season and should be a good one from Denver.

2019 DII women's volleyball semifinal results

Game 1: Nebraska-Kearney 3, Rockhurst 1

What a gritty performance from Nebraska-Kearney. It was a back-and-forth affair, but the higher seed will advance to the finals after winning in four sets. Julianne Jackson led the way once again with 20 kills.

Game 2: Cal State San Bernardino 3, Regis 1

Regis put up a good fight, but it was ultimately no match for No. 1 seed Cal State San Bernardino. Alexis Cardoza was the star once again, notching 22 kills and 13 digs. Jalyn Hayes chipped in with 10 kills.

2019 DII women's volleyball quarterfinal results

Game 1: No. 3 Rockhurst 3, No. 6 Carson-Newman 0

Rockhurst made a statement in the first game of the day, sweeping Carson-Newman in three sets. Karli Reichert was outstanding, racking up nine kills, while Alyssa Woodman had eight.

Game 2: No. 2 Nebraska-Kearney 3, No. 7 Gannon 1 

Julianne Jackson was absolutely dominant for Nebraska-Kearney, notching a team-high 13 kills and 13 digs. Gannon took the first set, but Nebraska-Kearney reeled off three straight, outscoring its opponent by 18 over the last two.

UNDEFEATED TRACKER: Track the final two undefeated teams run for a perfect season

Game 3: No. 4 Regis 3, No. 5 Saint Leo 0

Regis came out of the gates firing. It never allowed Saint Leo to score more than 18 points in a set, winning each one handily. Silvia Basso was phenomenal, tallying a whopping 49 assists on the night. Nikki Kennedy finished with 13 kills.

Game 4:  No. 1 Cal State San Bernardino 3, No. 8 Molloy 0

Cal State San Bernardino lived up to its billing as the 1-seed, completing the third sweep of the quarterfinals in dominant fashion. Molloy put up a decent fight in the third set, but it wasn't enough in the end. Alexis Cardoza led the way with 17 kills on 27 attempts for the victors.

2019 DII women's volleyball championship: Regional final Saturday

  • The Nebraska-Kearney vs. Concordia-St. Paul match could have earned top billing of the day, and the two certainly delivered. After exchanging 25-19 sets, the two battled back and forth. The fifth and decisive set was a war in itself. Once again, the Lopers fell behind early, but came back to win 15-13, remain undefeated and move on to the semis. 
  • No. 5 Saint Leo was back at it, taking down No. 3 Barry 3-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. It is the first South Region Championship for the Lions, and they took down the No. 1, 3 and 4 seeds to accomplish it. 
  • Speaking of successful five-seeds, Rockhurst is back in familiar territory, reaching the quarterfinals for the second time in three years. How did the Hawks do it? By sweeping No. 1 Lewis in the second round and then doing the same to No. 2 Hillsdale in the regional final. 
  • No. 2 Gannon knocked out No. 1 Wheeling in straight sets. It was a battle of the last two regional champions, and this time around it went to Gannon who returns to the quarterfinals for the second time in three years. 
  • Azusa Pacific took Cal State San Bernardino to the limit, but the Cougars upset run came to an end in the West Region final. The Coyotes jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Azusa Pacific came right back, highlighted by a thrilling 33-31 third set. The Coyotes were able to hold off the Cougars 15-10 in the final set. 

Here is the full scoreboard from the third round:

Saturday, Dec. 7

DII women's volleyball championship: What to read

  • If you are curious how the 64 teams got into the bracket and what remains ahead, be sure to check out our essential guide to the DII women's volleyball tournament. It is a comprehensive look from the selection process to the national championship match: A complete guide to the DII women's volleyball championship
  • Twenty-three teams earned an automatic bid to the postseason by winning either their regular-season championship or conference tournament. We tracked those automatic qualifiers here: Your 2019 NCAA DII tournament automatic bids

2019 DII women's volleyball championship: What you missed, so far

Second round:

  • Barry made sure that 2019 will crown a new national champion. The Bucs eliminated defending champs Tampa in an intense 3-2 battle. Barry jumped out to a two-set advantage before Tampa came storming back. The fifth set was no easy task, as Tampa and Barry went back and forth until the Bucs prevailed 21-19 for the decisive set.
  • One day after the No. 1 seeds went 8-0, we saw a few struggle to advance, if at all. Augusta and Wingate played three lopsided sets back and forth before a tightly-contested 15-13 fifth set by Augusta led to the first big upset of a No. 1 in the tournament. Shortly after, Saint Leo had it much easier, sweeping No. 1 Lynn from the 2019 championship. Later, Rockhurst and Lewis battled. Neither team were strangers to deep runs in the tournament, but Friday saw No. 5 Rockhurst end No. 1 Lewis' run in straight sets. 
  • Nebraska-Kearney and Cal State San Bernardino are still perfect on the season. The Lopers were able to stay that way in straight-sets over Northern State. The Coyotes pulled through in four sets against Alaska Anchorage. 
  • Below is the complete schedule for the second round:

Second round, Friday, Dec. 6 (all times Eastern):

First round

The first round of the NCAA DII tournament got underway on Thursday, Dec. 5. Here's what you may have missed:

  • Tournament heavyweights Concordia St.-Paul and Tampa both moved on to the regional semifinals. It was smooth sailing for the defending champion Spartans, who swept their way to the second round, but Concordia-St. Paul had a real fight, going the full five sets with Washburn.
  • Two No. 6 seeds advanced in upset fashion in the early games. Shepherd took down East Stroudsburg 3-2, while Michigan Tech made a statement sweeping UMSL in straight sets. Two No. 7 seeds partook in the largest upsets of the day thus far as No. 7 Flagler swept its way to victory over No. 2 Queens (NC) and No. 7 Holy Family ousted No. 2 Bentley three sets to one. Azusa Pacific joined the upset part at night, as the No. 6 seed took out Cal State L.A.
  • All eight No. 1 seeds advanced, and quite easily at that. At least for the most part. Seven of the eight seeds combined to go 21-1 with only Molloy dropping a set. Regis jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before MSU Denver came storming back to force a decisive fifth set. But the Rangers moved on to Friday's second round. No. 1 seeds Nebraska-Kearney and Cal State San Bernardino remained perfect on the season.

Here is the complete scoreboard from Round 1:

Thursday, Dec. 5 (all times Eastern)

DII women's volleyball bracket semifinal matchups

Tap here for a full-size view of the NCAA DII tournament bracket.

DII women's volleyball championship: History

The Tampa Spartans are back in the field, looking to defend their 2018 national championship. The Spartans are the No. 2 seed in the South and will face Alabama Huntsville in the first round. The winningest team in DII women's volleyball championship history — Concordia-St. Paul — is also back in the field, facing off against Washburn — a fellow 2018 finals team — in the first round.

HISTORY: DII programs with most titles

Below is the complete history of the championship match. 

YEAR CHAMPION (RECORD) COACH SCORE RUNNER-UP SITE
2018 Tampa (33-4) Chris Catanach 3-2 Western Washington Pittsburgh, Pa.
2017 Concordia-St. Paul (34-3) Brady Starkey 3-0 Florida Southern Pensacola, Fla.
2016 Concordia-St. Paul (32-4) Brady Starkey 3-0 Alaska Anchorage Sioux Falls, S.D.
2015 Wheeling Jesuit (39-4) Christy Benner 3-0 Palm Beach Atlantic Tampa, Fla.
2014 Tampa (33-1) Chris Catanach 3-0 S'west Minnesota State Louisville, Ky.
2013 Concordia-St. Paul (35-3) Brady Starkey 3-0 BYU-Hawaii Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2012 Concordia-St. Paul (34-4) Brady Starkey 3-2 Tampa Pensacola, Fla.
2011 Concordia-St. Paul (34-2) Brady Starkey 3-0 Cal State San Bernardino Cal State San Bernardino
2010 Concordia-St. Paul (32-4) Brady Starkey 3-1 Tampa Louisville, Ky.
2009 Concordia-St. Paul (37-0) Brady Starkey 3-0 West Texas A&M Concordia-St. Paul
2008 Concordia-St. Paul (37-1) Brady Starkey 3-2 Cal State San Bernardino Concordia-St. Paul
2007 Concordia-St. Paul (36-4) Brady Starkey 3-1 Western Washington Washburn
2006 Tampa (35-1) Chris Catanach 3-1 North Alabama West Florida
2005 Grand Valley State (32-1) Deanne Scanlon 3-1 Nebraska-Kearney Nebraska-Kearney
2004 Barry (34-1) Dave Nichols 3-1 Truman Barry
2003 North Alabama (33-7) Matt Peck 3-0 Concordia-St. Paul Cal State San Bernardino
2002 BYU-Hawaii (27-2) Wilfred Navalta 3-0 Truman West Texas A&M
2001 Barry (32-2) Dave Nichols 3-0 South Dakota State Grand Valley State
2000 Hawaii Pacific (28-0) Tita Ahuna 3-0 Augustana (S.D.) Augustana (S.D.)
1999 BYU-Hawaii (30-2) Wilfred Navalta 3-0 Tampa Battle Creek, Mich.
1998 Hawaii Pacific (31-5) Tita Ahuna 3-1 North Dakota State Kissimmee, Fla.
1997 West Texas A&M (37-1) Debbie Hendricks 3-2 Barry Cal State Bakersfield
1996 Nebraska-Omaha (35-2) Rose Shires 3-2 Tampa Central Missouri
1995 Barry (34-2) Lenid Yelin 3-1 Northern Michigan Barry
1994 Northern Michigan (32-4) Mark Rosen 3-1 Cal State Bakersfield Cal State Bakersfield
1993 Northern Michigan (38-1) Jim Moore 3-1 Cal State Bakersfield Northern Michigan
1992 Portland State (36-1) Jeff Mozzochi 3-2 Northern Michigan Portland State
1991 West Texas A&M (36-2) Jim Giacomazzi 3-0 Portland State West Texas A&M
1990 West Texas A&M (38-1) Kim Hudson 3-0 North Dakota State Cal State Bakersfield
1989 Cal State Bakersfield (21-15) David Rubio 3-0 Sacramento State Cal State Bakersfield
1988 Portland State (36-5) Jeff Mozzochi 3-0 Cal State Northridge North Dakota State
1987 Cal State Northridge (35-6) Walt Ker 3-2 Central Missouri Nebraska-Omaha
1986 UC Riverside (29-7) Sue Gozansky 3-0 Cal State Northridge Sacramento State
1985 Portland State (36-5) Jeff Mozzochi 3-1 Cal State Northridge Portland State
1984 Portland State (33-4) Jeff Mozzochi 3-0 Cal State Northridge Portland State
1983 Cal State Northridge (30- 6) Walt Ker 3-2 Portland State Florida Southern
1982 UC Riverside (31-5) Sue Gozansky 3-0 Cal State Northridge Cal State Northridge
1981 Sacramento State (28-6) Debby Colberg 3-0 Lewis UC Riverside

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