USU Eastern Places at National Tournament


By Calvin Jensen

Another exceptional season came to an end for the USU Eastern women’s volleyball team as they returned home from West Plains, Missouri following a 10th place finish in the NJCAA National Tournament.

The Lady Eagles entered the tournament as the eighth seed, dropping their first game of the tournament in a heart-breaking five-set loss to #9 Central Wyoming. Following the loss, the Lady Eagles battled their way back after defeating #16 Wallace State (3-0) and #13 Blinn College (3-1) on Friday.

USU Eastern would come up short Saturday morning in a center court matchup against #10 New Mexico Military Institute (1-3) in their final matchup of the season. Later in the day, No.1 Florida Southwestern would defeat No. 7 Miami Dade in the national championship title match, both of whom the Lady Eagles faced during the preseason.

“What this team has accomplished this year has been remarkable to say the least,” said head coach Danielle Jensen. “Beginning this season with such a young team, we knew how much work was going to be required for us to achieve our goals and these girls did it. The opportunity to attend nationals brought us so close as a team and that experience is going to be huge for us next year.”

The Lady Eagles completed another thrilling season with a record of 26-9 and an eighth place finish in the national rankings.

Perhaps the biggest success for the Lady Eagles during the tournament was a surprise announcement on Saturday evening from NJCAA President and CEO Christopher Parker. Parker awarded USU Eastern the “National Sportsmanship Award” following the championship match Saturday evening.

This was the only award given outside of the all-tournament team and championship title. Officials later shared with the USU Eastern coaching staff that it was an unanimous decision by the committee due to the positive impact that the team had on tournament officials and community members.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said athletic director Jess Brinkerhoff. “This award says a lot about what is important for this program and the USU Eastern athletic department as a whole. It was such an amazing honor for these girls and it was a pleasure to be a part of the national tournament with them.”

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