DES MOINES, Iowa - The Indiana University East volleyball team fell 25-11, 25-18, 25-14 in an NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round match at No. 20 Grand View University on Nov. 23.
IU East finishes 23-16. Grand View (30-13) advances to the NAIA Volleyball National Championship final site.
"I'm proud of the way we fought through this weekend and the energy we brought to it," said IU East interim coach Abby Niekamp. "Our main goal was to bring energy and effort to the weekend, and I think we did that. We fought through the adversity of small numbers and injuries and came away with positives from the weekend even though we didn't come away with the win."
Freshman middle hitter Morgan Steinbrunner (Rockford, Ohio/Parkway High School) and redshirt freshman middle hitter Kinsey Siler (Centerville, Ind./Centerville High School) both made four kills and had a hand in a block for IU East.
Freshman defensive specialist Lydia Smith (Connersville, Ind./Connersville High School) made 11 digs.
IU East saved five set points in the second set.
Taylor Wells had 13 kills for Grand View.
The trip itself included a little bit of everything, especially from Mother Nature. The Red Wolves left Richmond under autumn conditions. They were greeted in Des Moines by a wintery mix of ice and then snow. When they left Iowa's capital city, the temperature was near single digits.
The Red Wolves did get a postgame reminder of warmer weather. A Grand View player from Honolulu, Hawaii, handed out souvenir leis to several IU East players and coaches before they boarded the bus for the drive home.
All will remember a night-before-the-match surprise team visit to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as a trip highlight.
"It was a really good experience for our freshmen," said sophomore outside hitter Mallory Livingston (Union City, Ohio/Mississinawa Valley High School). "It was a growing thing, and a chance to see the competition we need to be at the level of to go to nationals (final site). A chance to see where we are striving to be."
The Red Wolves participated in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship for the fifth consecutive season. IU East is one of six programs in the national to qualify for the past five national tournaments.
* IU East freshman Morgan Steinbrunner (Rockford, Ohio/Parkway High School) was honored as IU East's recipient of the NAIA Champions of Character Award during a banquet on Nov. 22.
IU East-Grand View box score