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Advancing in tourney, simple for Viterbo volleyball

V-Hawks celebrate during MCC tournament championship. Photo: Nate Beier - gx3media.smugmug.com/

teams announced in Viterbo's pool

By RICK SOLEM

The Viterbo University volleyball team finally knows who it’s going to play in the NAIA tournament.

Locked into a pool of four teams, all the V-Hawks need to do is come out as one of the top two teams to advance to the final 12 – with four of those teams getting a bye.

“Simple as that, right?” Viterbo coach Ryan DeLong said sarcastically.

It won’t be easy. Viterbo (35-7), ranked ninth in the NAIA, is in a pool with No. 4 Biola (28-4), No. 16 Madonna (37-7) and No. 23 Coastal Georgia (35-1).

“Anyone can beat anyone down there,” DeLong said. “We like our matchup, we like our pool but every game is going to be a tough one.”

The way pool play works, each team will all play each other once and the top two will advance to those final 12 spots.

Viterbo plays at 3:15 p.m. each day Dec. 3-5 at the Tyson Center in Sioux City, Iowa. First up, Madonna, then Coastal Georgia, followed by a rematch with Biola, a team the V-Hawks beat 3-1 in mid-August.

“That game doesn’t mean a whole lot, except that we’ve seen them before,” DeLong admitted.

It’s been a waiting game for Viterbo, which earned a bye after winning its conference tournament back on Nov. 15. Now, they wait some more.

“It is a difficult challenge to keep ourselves sharp with a two-week layoff,” DeLong said. “But the alternative would have been to play last Saturday.”

The tournament is a whirlwind to the championship with games Dec. 3-6 – the championship teams playing a doubleheader on the final day and potentially back-to-back doubleheaders if they didn’t get a first-round byes after pool play.

“It’s a grind, a game or more each day for three straight days,” DeLong said.

This is the second time in three years Viterbo has made the NAIA tournament. Two years ago, the V-Hawks season ended in the quarterfinals to the eventual NAIA runners-up, Columbia College.