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Clearwater Wins Fourth Straight NCCAA National Volleyball Championship

Clearwater Christian College participated in the 2009 NCCAA II National Volleyball Championship this past weekend at the Kissimmee Civic Center. The team captured another national championship banner for the fourth straight season marking their ninth national title in the past 15 years.

The Cougars were among ten teams across the United States and Canada who qualified for the NCCAA National Tournament; eight regional winners and two at-large bids. Teams represented included Clearwater Christian College and Trinity College from Florida, Philadelphia Biblical University from Pennsylvania, West Coast Christian College from California, Manhattan College from Kansas, Ozark Christian College from Missouri, Kentucky Christian College, Lincoln Christian University from Illinois, Providence College from Canada, and Grace University from Omaha, Nebraska.

During the three-day event, Clearwater went undefeated in pool play, winning matches against West Coast College, Grace University, Providence College, and Kentucky Christian College. On Saturday in the semi-final match, the Lady Cougars defeated Manhattan Christian College 25-6; 25-17; 25-12, placing them into the championship match against Lincoln Christian University. This match up was a repeat of the 2008 final, where CCC defeated Lincoln in a five game finish for the national title.

In an exciting championship match, Clearwater came out strong in game one and totally dominated with their outstanding defense and solid offense to win 25-12. During game two, the Cougars continued their outstanding offense led by setter Elisabeth Ennis and hitters Richelle Bucklin, Emma Kile and Alyssa Hallice, while the defensive effort was sparked by senior Christine Sugimoto. However during game two, the Red Lions settled down and fought back to get into the match. Although dropping that set 22-25, the Lincoln team continued to work hard. During the third set it appeared that Lincoln might go down in three straight, but their three All Americans came alive and took charge, leading the Red Lions to 26-24 win. For the rest of the championship match, the two teams fought back and forth in dominating offense countered with tenacious defense in a battle for the national title.

During the fourth game, Lincoln won 25-23, a win that forced a fifth set to determine the national champions. In the final game, no team gained more than a two-point advantage throughout. With a score of 13-13, Clearwater called a time out. The two teams exchanged points to a 15-15 tie. The final two points scored in the match were a missed serve by a Lincoln player followed by a serve by CCC’s Ashley Lawson and a big double block by Alyssa Hallice and Liz Ennis to win the final point of the match and secure their fourth straight NCCAA National Championship.

Several CCC players were honored during the National Tournament including First Team All-Americans Alyssa Hallice and Emma Kile while Richelle Bucklin and Christine Sugimoto were named to the Second Team All-American Team. Scholar Athletes included Christine Sugimoto, Kayla Whitely and Danielle Heffernan. Alyssa Hallice was named as Player of the Year and All Tournament honors included Emma Kile and Christine Sugimoto with Alyssa Hallice being named the MVP of the national tournament.

Clearwater’s overall record this season was 45-4, setting a new team record for most wins in a season. The Lady Cougars went undefeated against NCCAA II colleges and also had several big wins over NCCAA I, NAIA, NJCAA, and NCAA II & III colleges. Winning the competitive Hillsborough tournament against two nationally ranked NJCAA I programs a few weeks ago was a highlight of their season.

According to Coach Denny, “We are very thankful for the successful season that the Lord gave us. With only four players coming back from last year’s championship team, I was amazed at how well our new players came in and contributed immediately. The Lord brought in some great new players to help us keep up our winning tradition. This year was especially rewarding because the team strived to do all things with excellence as unto the Lord and not unto man.”