The 2012 NAIA Volleyball National Championship is set to get underway on Nov. 27 in Sioux City, Iowa. The Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena serves as the venue for the 33rd annual event as round robin pool play begins Nov. 27 and runs through Nov. 29.
The top-two teams from each of the six four-team pools will advance to the single elimination bracket starting Nov. 30. The championship match will be held Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. CST.
Among the 24-squad final site field, five teams have appeared in at least 10 National Championships: Columbia (Mo.
) (19), Georgetown (Ky.) (15), Biola (Calif.) (12), Madonna (Mich.) (12) and Lee (11). Columbia has made 19-consecutive trips, dating back to 1994. Columbia and Texas at Brownsville are the only teams in this year's field to have won a national title.
Top-ranked Concordia (Calif.), who won the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) regular-season championship for the second time in school history, headlines Pool A. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the field and are on an NAIA best 32 match-winning streak. The 2012 GSAC Player of the Year Brooke Marino is currently injured for the Eagles, who are making their eighth-straight trip to the National Championship. The highest-ranked challenger to Concordia within Pool A is No. 12 Indiana East. The Red Wolves will count on senior setter Lauren Crump, who was the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
No. 2 Texas at Brownsville, who was placed in Pool B, makes its fifth appearance at the National Championship in program history. The Scorpions were ranked No. 1 for nine-straight weeks during the regular-season until its lone loss Concordia in late October. Westmont (Calif.) returns to the tournament for the first time since 2002, ending a nine year drought. The Warriors are tied with St. Francis (Ill.) for the longest absence of any qualifiers with at least one appearance.
Pool C features No. 3 Columbia, the American Midwest Conference Tournament champion. The Cougars streak of 31-consecutive wins is the second-longest active mark in the nation behind only Concordia's 32-straight victories. The Cougars only loss this season came on Sept. 8 against Texas at Brownsville. Columbia will go head-to-head with No. 10 Oklahoma Baptist on Nov. 29 in Pool C action. The Lady Bison are making its second-straight trip to the national championship; however the Lady Bison are still looking for their first win.
No. 4 Biola (Calif.) will face off with No. 9 Lee (Tenn.) on Nov. 29 in a battle of the top-ranked squads in Pool D. The Eagles are making their 12th trip to the National Championships and have qualified in each of the past six years and holds two runner-up finishes. The Lady Flames are in their fifth-consecutive National Championship after winning the Southern Stats Athletic Tournament. Coach Andrea Hudson will be seeking to take her club to the semifinal round for the fourth straight year.
Lee opens pool play with against a talented Missour Baptist club on Tuesday at 5:15 EST. The Lady Flames wilol test Lindsey-Wilson on Wednesday at 5:15 and will be back on the court for the showdown with Biola at the same time on Thursday. The top two teams from each pool advances to the single-elimination bracket.
Fifth-ranked Embry-Riddle (Fla.), who is making its second straight trip to the National Championship, is the highest-ranked team in Pool E. The Eagles Jordan Holcomb became the first player in history for Embry-Riddle to win NAIA Volleyball National Player of the Week. Embry-Riddle looks forward to a Nov. 29 showdown with No. 8 Hastings (Neb.).
Finally, Pool F groups No. 6 The Master's (Calif.) and No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan. The Mustangs, who finished in third place in the GSAC with a 10-4 league mark, are making its first ever national championship appearance. The Wildcats are making its third-straight appearance in the National Championship and hold a record of 2-3.
Besides The Master's, Viterbo (Wis.) is the only other school making its first National Championship appearance.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all single elimination matches of the 2012 Volleyball National Championship. The single-elimination matches' start at 10 a.m. CST on Nov. 30 will be streamed and coverage will continue through the championship match on 8 p.m. CST on Dec. 1.