RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)–The California Baptist University women’s volleyball team won their first NAIA national championship after defeating Concordia University of Irvine, Calif., in three out of four games Dec. 4 in San Diego. In addition, it is the first national title for any women’s sport at CBU.
“This is a stunning achievement from our team that first surfaced in the national polls ranked at No. 19 in September,” athletic director Doug Huckaby said. “We’re thrilled at the girls’ performance. It’s a true Cinderella story — moving literally from ‘worst to first,’ beating the best teams in the NAIA and putting California Baptist University athletics on the map.”
The Lancers’ women’s volleyball team won all seven matches in the national championships, creating a string of upsets including the defeat of No. 3 Columbia University in Missouri. The team marked its rise by not losing a single match in the second half of regular season play.
“We live each day for Christ and play each match one game at a time,” CBU coach Ryan McGuyre said. “We know one way to play and expect to play that way each time we take the court. Fortunately, that way was good enough to defeat Fresno when they were No. 1 and good enough to produce great results to an exciting final.”
The CBU Lancers defeated Concordia University 30-23, 30-27 in the first two games, lost by a narrow margin in the third game, 32-34, and sealed the championship with a win in the fourth game by a rousing 30-16.
The whole team took the spotlight in Saturday’s match as everyone on the roster took the court at some point in the game. Yajaira Prado and Yudelka Bonilla were both named to the All-Tournament team. Prado and Bonilla started with California Baptist University’s team just this year, having played volleyball together growing up in the Dominican Republic.
Bonilla picked up 33 kills in the last match of the NAIA championship games, setting a new CBU record for number of kills in a single four-game match.
In a footnote to the season, but in the highest order of importance for California Baptist University and its mission to serve the Great Commission, McGuyre noted that two players received Christ during the year.
“Our biggest victories this season were seeing Deanna Bathauer and Natasha Evylnn come to know Christ,” he said. “I think anyone on the team would trade a national championship for those two coming to know the Lord. Volleyball is only a small part of the big picture. We had our eyes set on something higher and more important than a national championship.”
Karen Bergh is a staff writer with California Baptist University, and Jay Hobbs is a student at the university.