BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Led by outside hitters Sierra Athen and Paige Holdsworth, the Bellevue University volleyball team punched its ticket to Sioux City with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-16) sweep over Lincoln (Ill.) College Saturday afternoon in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round at Bellevue West High School.
The Bruins (27-8) will compete in the 2019 NAIA National Championship presented by Delta Hotels at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa on Dec. 3-7.
Athen led the Bruins with her 20th double-double on the season, finishing with 11 kills and a match-high 18 digs.
Holdsworth, who started the match as a defensive specialist, was inserted into an outside hitter position in the second set, finishing the match with 10 kills on .391 hitting, while adding five digs and a match-high three service aces.
Olivia Galas notched her 16th double-double of the season, registering 38 assists and 11 digs along with five kills while directing the BU offense to a .211 hitting percentage.
Lincoln, who held early leads in all three sets, was led by Kaylyn Hoffert's seven kills, two digs, and two blocks. Amazing Ashby finished with five kills, four digs, and a match-high four blocks.
The Lynx led 18-15 in the opening set before the Bruins used a 3-0 run capped by a service a from Holdsworth to tie the game at 18 apiece. The two teams traded points the remainder of the set before BU used a Lynx service error and a tip kill by Andrea Carson to squeak out the 25-23 first-set victory.
LC built a 6-2 advantage in the second frame and still had a four-point edge at 14-10 following a kill by Hoffert. The Bruins went on 6-2 run capped by kills from Holdsworth, Athen, and Galas to knot the set at 16-16. With the game tied at 20, the Bruins produced a 5-2 spurt, highlighted by two kills apiece from Reed-Bouley and Holdsworth to win the second, 25-22, and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
Once again the Lynx raced out to an early advantage in the third, taking a 7-2 lead following a kill by Mikayla Seibert. Bellevue countered with a 10-2 run sparked by a pair of kills from Athen to take a 12-9 lead. LC never got closer than two points the remainder of the contest as BU closed out the match with the 25-16 win.
The trip to the NAIA National Championship final site in Sioux City will be the ninth in BU history and the third in the last four years.