WHITEWATER, Wis.—Wow. Simply wow.
Not many words can describe how electric Bethel University's volleyball team was Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament, as the Royals (23-9) dethroned defending national champion Hope College with a 3-0 sweep. BU overcame deficits in the first and second set, and went on to win by scores of 25-23, 25-20, and 25-20.
Bethel's win over the Flying Dutch (24-7) marks the third consecutive NCAA Playoff appearance that the Royals have won their opening match. As a result, BU's all-time tournament record improves to 4-4 in their five total appearances.
The Royals trailed 12-16 in the opener, but utilized a 12-3 run to go ahead 24-19. Hope rallied to make it 24-23, but Nicole Deberry and Kristin Stern's block closed the door and handed Bethel a 1-0 lead in the match.
Bethel's 12-3 run was indicative of what was to come, as the Royals manufactured 12-4 runs in both the second and third set to secure the sweep. BU trailed 9-12 in the second frame when unleashing their first 12-4 run and started the third set with the same rally, which gave them enough momentum to closeout the win.
The Royals accumulated 59 points throughout the match on 41 kills, five aces, and 13 blocks. BU hit .245 throughout the match, while limiting the Flying Dutch to an attacking percentage of .076.
Bethel's trio of Tegan LaBerge, Carlee Hoppe, and Kristin Stern were exceptional throughout the match. LaBerge posted 11 kills, nine blocks, and a hitting percentage of .450, while Hoppe recorded 11 kills, a team-high 12 digs, and an attacking mark of .250. Kristin Stern also tallied double-digit kills—finishing with 10 slams and a hitting percentage of .500.
Katie Lubben was credited with an outstanding 29 assists and seven digs, while Mikayla Morrow added eight assists. Kali Johnson and Tina Hoppe each wracked up 10 digs throughout the match.
With the triumph BU advances to the round of 32, where they'll face the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Whitewater, Wis. on Friday, November 13 at 4:30 p.m.