Everything is bigger in Texas, and that's how XUVBC finished out the 2010-2011 season. Reliant Park in Houston, TX, host to the 2011 NCVF National Volleyball Championships, paved way for Xavier to make its first National Championship appearance in four years. 336 teams, with over 3000 athletes, playing on 49 courts, over the course of 3 days guaranteed an exciting weekend. XUVBC started the first day of the tournament as part of the afternoon session playing Villanova. In a first set loss to Villanova 25-18, Xavier battled deep into the second set winning 34-32. Villanova pulled away in the third set 15-9 to take the match and hand XUVBC its first loss of the tournament. In our second match, we had the difficult task of taking on Air Force, who had an average height of 6'4". Xavier stuck with them but came out with its second lost in the tournament falling 25-18 and 25-12 in two sets. We knew we needed to come out of pool play with at least one win, and we had our shot at Missouri University of Science & Technology (MOST). Playing MOST only a few weeks earlier at the Cornfield Classic, we knew what we were going to see. A back and forth first set lifted Xavier with a 26-24 win. MOST came out firing in the second set to force a third set with a win 25-19. XUVBC wasn't going to let this one slide though as we battled back and forth once again to take home our first win of the tournament with a 15-13 third set win.
Placing fourth in pool play, we looked at Friday as a chance to rebound and come out strong as a team. Our new seeding pool led us to the challenges of Grove City College and State University of New York at Cortland (SUNY Cortland). In the first match vs SUNY Cortland, XUVBC took care of business with a 25-13 and 25-23 two set win. In our match-up vs Grove City, it took three extremely close sets to prevail a winner. Unfortunately, XUVBC was on the losing end with a 26-24 first set loss, a 25-24 second set win, and a 15-9 third set loss. Taking second in the consolation pool play placed us in the Bronze division for Saturday's action.
We came to Houston with the goal of showing the country the success and tradition Xavier carries with itself, and this was our last shot to show what we were made of. With a first round forfeit/ no show of Olivet Nazarene University, XUVBC returned back to the Reliant Center in the afternoon to take on Yale University. Defense and passing were the key for Xavier as we took home a two set win 25-22 and 25-20. Advancing to the next round, Worcester Polytechnic Institute stood in our way from moving on to the championship match. The tables turned as our offense led the way to a dominating 25-15 and 25-15 two set win. This was the first time XUVBC has been to Nationals in four years, and with the 180 degree turnaround the club has made, we now find ourselves playing in a championship match. On to the next one as Jay-Z would say, to which Stevens Institute of Technology was our last match of Nationals, win or go home...and we knew which route we wanted. Saturday, as a whole, was the best volleyball Xavier has played all year. Playing as a team, playing smart, and showing the will to win led us to this championship match, but it didn't stop there. In a tough first set, as emotions were flying, Xavier was handed the 26-24 loss. We weren't about to give up after being down 0-1 though. We started the second set on a roll and never looked back from there. Sheer dominance in sets two and three led XUVBC to its first bronze championship winning 25-12 and 15-5. As the crowd roared and XUVBC celebrated on the court, we were presented with the official NCVF Bronze Championship plaque. We wanted to show the world what we're made of, and we showed that when we bring all the parts to the table, we can't be beat as a team.
Houston was the last stop for XUVBC for the 2010-2011 season, but with every starter returning, a transfer, and an incoming freshman class for next year, look for Xavier to be on top of the polls as we look to continue our success and tradition.