The Buena Vista volleyball team puts its 11-match win streak on the line as it takes on Luther College Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the first of two Iowa Conference Volleyball Tournament semifinal matches to be played inside the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
About Luther: The Norse (19-6, 6-2 IIAC) finished with its second straight 6-2 IIAC mark, and after being picked second in the preseason poll, landed the second-seed into this year's tournament. The team, which earned a first round bye, takes the court Friday afternoon for the first time since wrapping up the regular season with a four-set home victory over Loras on October 24. The win was the team's third straight win overall and it begins tournament play having won five of six matches overall, including four straight conference wins. It's last IIAC setback was a 3-0 loss to top-seeded Wartburg. The only other league loss was a five-set heartbreaker to begin the conference schedule.
Luther averaged 11.57 kills/set to rank fourth during IIAC play and was second in hitting percentage (.184). It also ranked third in opponent kills/set (10.90). The team was the top serving team in the league, averaging just less than 2.0 aces/set. Emma Veum, who became a three-time all-conference selection on Thursday, ranked seventh during IIAC play in kills/set (2.80) and second in hitting percentage (.325). The 2015 Co-Freshman of the Year, is also right in the middle of the IIAC leaders in blocks/set (0.73). Sam Sixta ranked second in assists/set (9.13) and in ace serves/set (0.57) en route to her first all-conference recognition in her young career. The Norse dropped their semifinal match a year ago, 3-1, to third-seed nCoe College.
About Buena Vista: The Beavers have won 11 straight matches entering play on Friday with their last loss coming against the Norse in four sets back on September 30. They advanced into Friday's semifinals following a hard-fought 3-0 sweep at home against Nebraska Wesleyan Universoty on Tuesday night. The team was led in that match by senior all-conference selection, Jade Schaap, who became the team's second-ever four-time all-conference selection (Maddie Bardole). She finished with 16 kills in the match to run her season total to 457 and extends her program-record to 1,880. She's two kills shy from posting the fifth-highest single-season total in school history. Jamie Navinskey and Ali Grein closed out their final career home match with 11 kills each. Grein is second on the team in kills this season with Navinskey in third. Grein landed Honorable Mention All-IIAC honors this season and averages 2.59 kills/set overall. Mackenzie Gropel became the team's starting setter just before the win streak began while Summer Goss switched to the starting libero. That switch has proved to be a valuable move in the win column for the Beavers as they've gone 11-1 in that stretch. Gropel is averaging better than 6.0 assists/set for the year while Goss averaged nearly 4.0 digs/set during league play which ranked seventh. BVU is going after its second champioship match appearance in the last three years (2015).
Looking Ahead: The winner of Friday's semifinal match will advance to play the winner of #1 Wartburg/#4 Dubuque in Saturday's IIAC Tournament Championship match at 3:00 p.m.