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UT-Brownsville: 2011 NAIA National Champions

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  • UT-Brownsville: 2011 NAIA National Champions

    he dream has come true for 13 members of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College volleyball team — winning a national championship.

    On a snowy day in the Midwest, UTB-TSC captured the 32nd annual NAIA volleyball national championship with a 3-1 victory over Concordia University (Calif.) on Saturday night at the Tyson Events Center.

    With the 25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20 victory, the second-seeded Scorpions finished the 2011 season with a 32-2 record and the ultimate prize. Concordia, the top seed in the tournament, finished the year 37-2.

    At 60 minutes before the start of every home match at Manuel Garza B. Gymnasium, the Scorpions players line danced to the country song "Good Time" by Alan Jackson. The song was played Saturday at the Tyson Events Center for the Scorpions, and they danced to the song before the crowd.

    Everything was special about Saturday. It snowed for the first time this winter in Sioux City, and the Scorpions players enjoyed the three-inch snowfall almost as much as they enjoyed winning a championship.

    Concordia finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the NAIA coaches’ top 25 poll, partly on the strength of a win over the Scorpions on Oct. 29 in California.

    Danica Markovic was named the tournament's most valuable player, and Vanja Joksic and Ana Guerra were named to the 14-player all-tournament team. Coach Todd Lowery was the tournament coach of the year.

    The Scorpions overwhelmed Concordia with a .312 attack percentage, led by Guerra. The sophomore had 20 kills on 27 attacks without an error for a .741 attack percentage, and had three solo blocks and three assisted blocks.

    Markovic had 18 kills on 40 swings with seven errors for a .275 percentage, and Joksic had 16 kills on 26 swings with four errors for a .462 mark.

    Setter Amber Brooks had 54 assists, her season high for a four-set match. She also had 13 digs.

    Defensively, libero Paula Barros had 16 digs, and Markovic and Calcano 12 digs each. The Scorpions also had 10 team blocks.

    Greet the national champions Sunday at Brownsville Airport

    The NAIA volleyball national champion University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Scorpions are scheduled to arrive at 10:37 p.m. Sunday at the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport from a weeklong stay in Sioux City, Iowa.

    The Scorpions captured the national championship Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over Concordia University (Calif.) at the Tyson Events Center.

    Coaches, players and manager are ticketed to be on Continental Airlines Flight 4676 from Houston. There is a possibility of weather delays on flights from Omaha on Sunday because of snow in the area, and from Houston from expected rain in the area.

    Scorpions fans are encouraged to attend to greet the team home.

    The team will have the NAIA championship banner and the championship plaque with them. Other hardware includes the tournament most valuable player award for Danica Markovic and all-tournament awards for Ana Guerra and Vanja Joksic.


    Scorpions outlast Lee 3-2

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Things were looking grim for the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College when the Scorpions trailed Lee University (Tenn.) 2-1 after three sets in their NAIA volleyball national championships semifinal match Saturday at Tyson Events Center.

    The Scorpions needed their best friend - emotion - to get back on their side of the court. And it worked.

    No. 2 seed UTB-TSC came back to rout No. 3 seed Lee 25-11 in the fourth set and win a dramatic fifth set 15-12 to win the semifinal and claim a berth in the championship match at 8 p.m. Saturday.

    Scorpions coach Todd Lowery did not get to talk to the team much when the Scorpions were down in sets 2-1. He was working on tweaking the starting lineup.

    "I got to give credit to Roberta (Santos, assistant coach) for talking to the team while I was doing lineups," Lowery said. "She got them going. She just told them to believe in each other and play together. When we do that, we're a great team. Hats off to Roberta for getting them fired up."

    It will be the first time the Scorpions have played for a championship in any sport since joining the NAIA in 2006. Texas Southmost College finished second in the NJCAA volleyball championships in 1988 and 1991.

    Top-seeded Concordia University (Calif.) earned a spot in the final against the Scorpions with a 3-0 win over Columbia College (Mo.) earlier Saturday. The Eagles handed the Scorpions one of their two season losses Oct. 29 in California.

    Concordia has never won a national title, either. The Eagles have finished second twice and third three times.

    UTB-TSC appeared in control of the match early, winning the first set 25-20. But Lee came back strong in the second set and won 25-20 to tie the match at 1. Lee zipped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set and never trailed the rest of the way. The closest the Scorpions came was within two points, but the set finished 25-19.

    Down by a 2-1 score, the Scorpions knew they had to win the next two sets or their season would be over.

    After Lee scored the first two points of the set, the Scorpions ran off six in a row behind the serving of Michelle Marques to take a 6-2 lead. A single Lee point made it 6-3, but Paula Barros then served five points in a row to make it 11-3. Lee got no closer than seven points in the match and the Scorpions won easily.

    The stage was set for the fifth set.

    UTB-TSC led 6-4, and ran off four straight points to take a 10-4 lead behind the serving of Vanja Joksic. But the Flames ran off four in a row to make it 11-9. Joksic's kill ended the match.

    The statistics were high because of the five sets played. UTB-TSC hit .220, the lowest of the tournament, but the opposition was the best the Scorpions had faced thus far.

    Danica Markovic and Joksic had 16 kills each, Ana Guerra had 15 and Yenifer Calcano had 10. Setter Amber Brooks had 57 assists and led the back-row defense with 23 digs, while Paula Barros added 21 digs and Markovic 17.

    Guerra, the nation's leader in blocks, had three solo and 10 assisted. Calcano had seven assisted and the Scorpions had 16 team blocks.
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