SIOUX CITY, Iowa — No. 6 Lindsey Wilson volleyball opened up its 2018 NAIA National Tournament with a 3-0 sweep of Oklahoma City today at the Tyson Events Center.
The Blue Raiders (30-3) move to 1-0 in Pool F with their eighth consecutive win at the NAIA National Tournament dating back to last season’s national title. The Stars (31-4) fall to 0-1 in pool play.
Lindsey Wilson enjoyed a clear advantage statistically both offensively and defensively in the 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 win. The Blue Raiders outhit the Stars .276 to .140 while accumulating 11 team blocks compared to Oklahoma City’s three.
Despite the advantage, Lindsey Wilson could never shake Oklahoma City in any of the three sets. The Blue Raiders largest lead in the match — eight points — came late in the third set.
Lindsey Wilson won the last two points of the opening set for a 25-23 win.
Sarah Cruz led the Blue Raiders in the opening set with six kills. But the Blue Raiders had trouble putting the swing away — hitting just .196 in the frame. The Lindsey Wilson defense proved to be the difference in the set — collecting four team blocks and forcing the Stars into a .167 attack.
Paulina Sobolewska led the team with four assisted blocks in the first set while Cruz added two block assists. Sobolewska finished the match with a season-high eight assisted blocks.
After a strong first set defensively, Sobolewska contributed to the Lindsey Wilson cause offensively in the Blue Raiders’ 25-22 second-set win.
She produced four kills in the set — one of three Blue Raiders with four kills in the frame. Cruz and Grace Blomstedt also had four kills in the set. Sobolewska finished the match with 10 kills and a.450 hitting percentage.
As a team, the Blue Raiders had their most productive attacking set of the match, posting a .353 attack with 15 kills and just three errors in 34 swings.
Leading 14-13, Lindsey Wilson scored five straight points to take its largest lead of the set at 19-13. Oklahoma City came right back scoring four straight points to trim the deficit to 19-17.
After exchanging the next five points, the Stars scored three straight to tie the set at 22-22.
Lindsey Wilson closed the set with a three-point run of its own with blocks by Blomstedt and Autumn Proctor and a Blomstedt kill to take a 2-0 lead. Proctor concluded the set with a solo block and three assisted blocks to go along with her match-high 37 assists. She added 11 digs for her third double-double of the season.
Cruz and Sobolewska continued their strong play in the third set — a Lindsey Wilson 25-17 win.
The Blue Raider pair combined for 11 kills and a .476 attacking percentage in the frame. Cruz ended with a match-high 16 kills while hitting .433.
Lindsey Wilson used its biggest run of the match late in the set to earn the three-game sweep. Leading 15-13, the Blue Raiders scored five straight and seven of eight points to surge to a 22-14 lead — their largest of the match.
The Stars never threatened in the waning moments of the match as Lindsey Wilson won for the 30th time this season — its eighth 30-win season in the program’s history and seventh straight.
To go along with the Lindsey Wilson block, four Blue Raiders posted double-digit digs in the match. Lilo Larzelere led the team with 15 digs. Elly Burke and Klara Mikelova added 10 digs to join Larzelere and Proctor in double digits.
Oklahoma City’s Marijana Bjelobrk led the Stars with 15 kills.
Lindsey Wilson continues pool play at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday as the Blue Raiders face No. 21 Central Methodist (Mo.) at the Tyson Events Center.