Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) Defeats Missouri Baptist, Wins First NAIA Tournament Match in History


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Parkville, Mo. - Despite losing the first game, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) University was victorious by a score of 3-1 against Missouri Baptist University in Day 2 of Pool Play at the NAIA Men's Volleyball National Invitational Tournament. The Wolves of Cardinal Stritch won by scores of 23-30, 30-21, 30-24, 30-17 at the Breckon Sports Center on the campus of Park (Mo.) University.

"We felt like we were the better team," said Cardinal Stritch head coach Eric Poppelman. "We stubbed our toe last night (in loss to Park). This was for all the marbles."

Cardinal Stritch (23-9), who wins its first National Invitational match in its fourth attempt, advances to play defending national champion California Baptist in the second match of the Semifinals at 7:00 p.m. CST today (Friday). Cal Baptist took down Lindenwood and St. Ambrose in yesterday's pool play.

Poppelman feels tonight's semifinal match will be a good test for his team.

"California Baptist has won four straight national championships," said Poppelman. "We would love to beat a team like that. We are looking forward to it and having a great match."

Four Cardinal Stritch players landed in double-digit kills led by sophomore Matt Tauaese and senior Cristiano Mattia with 11 apiece. Senior Stefan Stefanovic piled up a game-high 43 assists and chipped in eight blocks and five digs.

As a team, the Wolves posted 18.5 blocks and held Missouri Baptist to a .105 hitting mark (47-33-133).

In Game 1, the Spartans of Missouri Baptist never trailed. The game was close in the beginning as MBU led by only one point at 15-14. Matt Mahoney got hot for the Spartans putting down one of his eight kills in the game to help his team take a 22-16 edge. From that point on, MBU never led by fewer than five points, and closed out the game on a Matt Washechek kill.

Evening the match up at 1-1, Cardinal Stritch took a quick 6-1 advantage thanks to four different players notching a kill. Missouri Baptist came back to take an 8-7 lead on a Mahoney service ace, one of his two for the match. Slowly creeping out to a 21-16 advantage after that, CSU held on behind a strong hitting attack (.343).

Behind the strength of a 43 percent attack mark (16-3-30), Cardinal Stritch took Game 3. After a combined 11 ties and lead changes, Matt Tauese of CSU sparked a 5-1 run to gain its largest margin up to that point, 18-13. Mo Baptist closed the deficit to two points on four occasions, with the last at 23-21 after a Garrett Callender kill. But, Cardinal Stritch held on and never let MBU get back into the game.

The Wolves never trailed in the match-deciding fourth game. They fired out to a 15-7 lead and expanded that to 12 points at 25-13. Mirko Jankovic played a pivotal role in the game totaling four of his 10 kills, including two of the game's final three points.

MBU concludes its season at 18-10. Mahoney led all players with 23 kills but hit just .190 (23-12-58). No other Spartan had more than six kills. Washechek contributed 34 assists and 11 digs.

Article courtesy of NAIA media relations.

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