Early in the day on Friday, the IWU Wildcats continued to make history, advancing to the NAIA National Championship Quarterfinals with a 3-1 win over Grand View.
But later that evening, their historic season came to an end, as they were defeated by Viterbo 3-2.
Against Grand View, the Wildcats led as many as 11 points in the first set. After the Vikings made a little push, Marci Miller’s fourth kill put the set away.
The second set was much closer, but again, the Wildcats were able to pull out a victory, scoring the final three points of the set.
In the third set, the Vikings scored seven of the first 10 points, building a 7-3 advantage. IWU battled back, cutting the Vikings’ lead to as little as two points, but Grand View pulled away late to win 25-19.
And in the final set, the Wildcats needed 30 points to end the match. IWU held a comfortable five-point lead, but five straight points from the Vikings knotted it up at 19 points apiece. The Wildcats had to fend off match point twice, but eventually came away with a 30-28 triumph.
Rachel Klitzing led the offense with 18 kills, while Ana Collar collected 16 terminations. Kelly Miller also recorded double-digit kills, finishing with 10. Alex Falcone finished with another 50-plus assist match, collecting 55, while Havyn Gates led the defensive effort with 42 digs.
The Wildcats’ season came to an end later on Friday night against Viterbo. After falling behind two sets to one, IWU forced a fifth set with a 32-30 triumph in the fourth set after trailing by five points.
But despite a valiant effort, the Wildcats came up just short, falling 15-13.
The Wildcats finish the season with a 37-3 record, their most wins since 2007.
“This was a very special team and I am just thankful for the opportunity to coach them because they were life changers for me,” IWU Head Coach Candace Moats said. “They were a family; they had passion for the game, they loved each other so well, and most importantly they loved the Lord. They grew as young ladies and found during their journey what truly defines them.”
Kelly Miller finished her incredible career with a season-high 22 kills against Viterbo, while Marci Miller was second with 16.
Falcone eclipsed the 1,500 assist mark with 61 assists in her final volleyball match.