Bulldogs, Polk State meet in Final Four

Bulldogs, Polk State meet in Final Four

By MIKE MONTFORT

HUTCHINSON, Ks — Top-seeded Navarro advanced Thursday to its first-ever NJCAA Volleyball Tournament Semifinal.

Coach Andy Cavins’ unbeaten, top-ranked Bulldogs (29-0) will play fifth-seeded Polk State, Fl., (24-4) at 6:30 pm Friday in volleyball’s version of The Final Four.  Friday’s other semifinal match pits No. 2 seed Miami Dade (28-2) against third-seeded Seward County, Ks., (30-2).

Live streaming of the matches is available at NJCAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis.

Navarro gained its berth Thursday by winning its opening-round match over No. 16 Monroe College, 3-1 and following up with a convincing, dominating sweep of No. 8 Hillsborough CC, for its 21st 3-0 victory of the season.

Against Hillsborough, the Bulldogs hit .349 and made only two errors during the match’s first two games.  After a 25-21 first-game win, NC rattled off leads of 14-0 and 20-1 against the Hawks.  Region XIV Player of the Year Jordan Lockwood had a team-high 12 kills, Johanna Montero (9) and Aleksandra Rojecka (7) to pace NC’s 38 kills and 86 attacks.

Region XIV Tournament MVP Emily Witt made a team-high 27 assists with six digs.  Libero Carla Boudal had a team-high 15 digs, four assists and two service aces.

Lockwood, Rojecka, Monica Wood and Deja Arnold combined for 11 of Navarro’s 14 block-assists in the match.

In their opening win over Monroe, the Bulldogs hit .331 with 65 kills and 142 attacks as Lockwood, Wood, and Arnold accounted for 45 spikes, plus 14 of the team’s 20 block-assists.  Witt fashioned a 54-assist, 15-dig double-double.

Friday’s semifinals pairings include three teams that were ranked No. 1 during the regular-season.  Hometown favorite Seward County, Ks., from Liberal, led rankings two weeks in September.  Polk State (24-4) assumed the top spot for five weeks, before Navarro’s three-week run to end the season.

On the opposite side of the bracket, Seward (30-2) is making its ninth tournament appearance and third in four seasons.  Miami Dade (28-2) has won nine NJCAA Tournament Championships in 17 appearances.

Navarro is attempting to become the fifth program from Region XIV to win an NJCAA Volleyball Tournament Championship and to claimthe conference’s eighth title since 1974.  Blinn won the last four (2008, 2011, 2013, 2014).  Previous champions include Alvin (1974), San Antonio (1975) and San Jacinto (1986) — all discontinued programs.