The NCAA Division II West Regional women’s volleyball tournament is finally over, and the Vikings have claimed their place atop the podium.
The Vikings took on rival the California State University, San Bernardino Coyotes in Sam Carver Gymnasium on Saturday night, Nov. 17. The stands held over 1,600 spectators from near and far who came to watch the championship game. Head Coach Diane Flick-Williams said it was the largest crowd her team had ever played in front of.
Attendees were treated to a spectacle showdown as the two West Region juggernauts slugged it out in a game that felt championship-caliber from the start of the first set.
It was clear from the outset that the Coyotes would pose the greatest threat to the Vikings of any team they had faced throughout the tournament. The Coyotes proved they were legitimate contenders by taking the first set off of the home team, which represented the first dropped set for the Vikings of the tournament.
That set served as a wakeup call for the Vikings, who responded in kind. Despite fierce opposition from the Coyotes, the Vikings battled their way through two straight sets to go up two sets to one.
There’s an old saying about cornered animals being the most dangerous, and the Coyotes proved that adage true. Down by a set and with their season on the line, the Coyotes came up big in the clutch. Winning the fourth set 25-22, they forced set five and turned the match into a sudden-death winner-take-all affair.
Cue the Rocky music.
The Vikings came out of the corner swinging and took an early lead in the final set. Up 4-1 and with little room for error, the Vikings proceeded to show the Carver Gym crowd why they were the number one seed going into the tournament. Showing patience on their kill selection and a disciplined defensive effort, the Vikings battled point-for-point with the Coyotes to a close, but conclusive, 15-12 victory.
This is the Vikings’ fourth NCAA Regional Championship appearance since 2015, and their win qualifies them for the NCAA Division II Elite 8 Tournament being held Nov. 29-Dec.1. The Vikings will travel across the country to compete at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Correction: It was incorrectly stated that California State University, San Bernardino is a conference rival. The team is in the CCAA, not the GNAC.
Check out more action shots from the Vikings’ win below!
Photos by Oliver Hamlin