A frequent lament of some members of the Cal State Northridge women's volleyball team was that their emotionless, flat play cost them the NCAA Division II championship last year.
The Lady Matadors had no such problem Saturday night in defeating Central-Missouri State, 15-4, 16-14, 12-15, 12-15, 16-14, for the national title. CSUN won the emotionally draining match before a noisy gathering of 1,200 in the Nebraska-Omaha gym.
Northridge fought off match point against the relentless Jennies to rally and win its second national championship in five years.
"I expected this to be a great match and I think it was reflective of these two teams," CSUN Coach Walt Ker said. "We did not play our best volleyball, but that was a result of Central-Missouri. It was an incredible match."
The Lady Matadors' spirited play in the two-hour match against tenacious Central-Missouri State was anything but emotionless. And CSUN's raucous, rowdy victory celebration, which included dunking Ker in the showers, could have been heard in downtown Omaha.
Two-time All-Americans Angela Brinton and Sue Darcey were named to the All-Final Four team along with Kathleen Dixon. Brinton and Anna Garcia led CSUN with 57 assists and 23 kills, respectively.
"I got scared tonight, but I wasn't going to stop fighting," Brinton said. "I was always confident in my team."
Central-Missouri State Coach Peggy Martin said her team played as well as Northridge but was hurt by its inexperience in a national championship match.
"It was one of the best volleyball matches I've ever been involved in. It just went the wrong way," Martin said. "I don't think they were better than us; they just had more experience."
Brinton served eight consecutive points to give CSUN a commanding 11-0 lead in the first game. Northridge struggled in the second game, however, and fell behind, 12-3, before rallying for the win.
Alissa Evans served for six points in the first game and for seven in the crucial fifth game. Trailing 14-13, CSUN fought off match point before winning the deciding game on a net violation.
Northridge (35-7) had finished runner-up in three consecutive national title matches before Saturday's win.
Central-Missouri State (42-4) was playing in its first Final Four.
Becky Belland and Susan Dixon of Central-Missouri State (42-4) were named to the All-Final Four team along with Lori Schutte of Nebraska-Omaha.