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DWU earns top seed for NAIA volleyball pool play

The Dakota Wesleyan University volleyball team will be the top seed in its three-team pool at the NAIA volleyball tournament final site, the NAIA announced on Sunday night.

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Dakota Wesleyan middle blocker Ady Dwight (2) hits an attack at the net while two Kansas Wesleyan players attempt to block during an NAIA volleyball tournament match on Nov. 19, 2022, at the Corn Palace.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The Dakota Wesleyan University volleyball team will be the top seed in its three-team pool at the NAIA volleyball tournament final site, the NAIA announced on Sunday night.

The Tigers, ranked No. 6 in the final top-25 coaches poll, will play in Pool F, which includes No. 10 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Southern Oregon, which was receiving votes in the final poll.

Seeded No. 1 in its pool, DWU will play No. 3 Southern Oregon in the pool play opener on Wednesday, Nov. 30, followed by No. 2 MidAmerica Nazarene and No. 3 Southern Oregon playing on Thursday, Dec. 1, and then No. 1 DWU and No. 2 MidAmerica Nazarene playing in the pool play finale on Friday, Dec. 2. Each match in DWU's pool will be at 7 p.m.

DWU (23-7) advanced to the 24-team NAIA final site for the second consecutive season by defeating Kansas Wesleyan in three sets on Saturday at the Corn Palace. In 2021, DWU was 2-1 in national tournament play but finished second in pool play to Park University (Mo.). Only the top finisher in each pool moves on to the national quarterfinals and the final eight-team bracket.

MNU, from Olathe, Kansas, started the season 25-0 and is 29-1, qualifying for the national tournament as winners of the Heart of America Conference regular season and tournament titles, with the latter coming over No. 13 Park (Mo.) in five sets. (The Pirates were the only team to defeat MNU on Nov. 1.) The Pioneers advanced on Saturday in the NAIA opening round with a five-set win over Blue Mountain Christian (Miss.)

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Southern Oregon (22-10) also won in five sets on Saturday over William Jessup (Calif.). The Raiders, from Ashland, Oregon, were an at-large selection and qualified out of the Cascade Collegiate Conference, which included No. 1 Eastern Oregon and No. 4 Corban this season. This is SOU's 11th time making the NAIA final site for volleyball.

The winner of DWU's pool will take on the winner of Pool C at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. Those potential opponents include No. 3 Midland (Neb.), No. 14 Bellevue (Neb.) and No. 25 Westmont (Calif.). In addition to DWU and Midland, all seven GPAC volleyball teams moved on to the NAIA final site with opening-round wins. Northwestern was placed in Pool H, while Jamestown and College of Saint Mary (Neb.) will play together in Pool B, with Nebraska rivals Concordia and Hastings paired up in Pool D. Collectively, the GPAC has not lost an NAIA opening-round match since 2019, going 19-0 over the last three seasons.

The semifinals in the NAIA tournament are Monday, Dec. 5 and the national championship is Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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