Tag Archives: Golden State Athletic Conference


The Conference Tournaments have begun in the divisions of College Baseball covered here at Balladeer’s Blog.


Hope International University RoyalsDAY ONE, GAME ONE: The 3 seeds – the HOPE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ROYALS – started things off against the 2nd seeded ARIZONA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY FIRESTORM. The Firestorm seized a quick 4-0 lead in the 1st Inning but the Royals made it a 4-2 game in the 2nd.

Arizona Christian University extended their lead to 5-2 in the 3rd Inning following which neither team scored in the 4th. Hope International U put up 5 more runs in the 5th Inning for a 7-5 advantage. The Royals notched 1 more run in the 9th to end the scoring, winning the game 8-5. Pitcher Henry Martinez got the W. Continue reading


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Master's College Mustangs logoGOLDEN STATE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE – The MASTER’S COLLEGE MUSTANGS lived up to their number 1 seeding, taking the GSAC tournament title with an 8-3 victory over the 3rd seeded SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN EAGLES. Along the way to the conference crown the Mustangs also defeated Concordia (CA) and Arizona Christian University.

Taylor Trojans logoCROSSROADS LEAGUE – This conference’s unique format pits the ultimate winner of Bracket One against the ultimate winner of Bracket Two. The (1) TAYLOR TROJANS (Bracket One champs) won an 11-10 scoring orgy against the (3) MOUNT VERNON NAZARENE COUGARS (Bracket Two champs). Enroute to the league title the Trojans bounced Marian University once and Continue reading


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Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves

Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves

GREAT PLAINS ATHLETIC CONFERENCE – In a very busy opening day of the GPAC tournament the 5th seeded NEBRASKA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PRAIRIE WOLVES upset the 4 seeds, the MT MARTY LANCERS, by a score of 5-1.   ###   In the top spot the NORTHWESTERN COLLEGE (IA) RED RAIDERS had their hands full with the 8th seeded DAKOTA WESLEYAN TIGERS but emerged in the end with a 4-3 victory. In their 2nd game of the day the Red Raiders defeated the Prairie Wolves by a score of 3-1. In Dakota Wesleyan’s 2nd game they eliminated Mt Marty in a 4-3 nailbiter.   ###   The 6th seeded MIDLAND UNIVERSITY WARRIORS toppled the 3rd seeded Continue reading


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 DAKOTA ATHLETIC CONFERENCE – The Jamestown College Jimmies took two games yesterday, defeating the Dakota State Trojans 12-2 and then going one run better by taking down the Dickinson State Blue Hawks 13-2. Meanwhile the Continue reading


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The Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds volleyball team is 8-0 and is at the top of the NAIA poll for the 36th straight week. The ladies received all 23 1st place votes and had 653 votes total. Half of the Sunbirds’ 8 wins came at the Asics-Crowne Plaza Labor Day Tournament in Irvine, CA. Fresno Pacific is performing phenomenally, with only 1 team this  season, the 13th ranked Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Eagles , having avoided a 3-set sweep against the defending champs. The Eagles took the game to a full 5 sets before succumbing to the Sunbird juggernaut. (Am I the only one who wonders why no college sports teams are called the Juggernauts? Explain. Can’t you picture teams succumbing to them? Cite specific examples.)

The 2nd and 3rd spots in the poll are also held by Golden State Athletic  Conference teams, the Concordia (CA) Eagles and the Cal Baptist Lancers, cementing the GSAC’s name for being to college volleyball what the SEC is to college football. The Lee Flames and the Northwestern (IA) Red Raiders round out the NAIA Top 5.


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gregusova kill

When it comes to NAIA volleyball, it’s been the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds’ world and everyone else is just part of the dig-counters. The Sunbirds are coming off a perfect 38-0 season which found the ladies winning a 3rd straight national championship. They also went undefeated at home for the 7th straight season and won their 10th straight Golden State Athletic Conference title. Needless to say they are starting this season ranked number 1.

Having won 110 of their last 112 matches, the Sunbirds volleyball team felt up to the challenge of seeing if I could conduct a lucid interview for once. When I offered to meet the ladies for a face-to-face interview to get the inside story on their team’s phenomenal run, Head Coach Dennis Janzen gave the okay, despite my ice-breaking joke in which I told him I really loved watching reruns of him in The Fugitive and Harry O. Janzen just rolled his eyes. (Maybe he was just peeved that I didn’t mention Richard Diamond episodes) (DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE BITS WHERE I PRETEND TO ACTUALLY BE INTERVIEWING THE PEOPLE COVERED IN THE ARTICLE…ALSO NO VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS WERE HARMED DURING THE WRITING OF THIS BLOG POST)

I asked senior All-American Lisa “Worth More Than A” Shilling  how she and her teammates deal with the non-stop pressure of the streak they are on and she replied:

“It’s there in the back of your mind, but it ‘s only what you make of it.”

She also stated the common thread running through the last 3 national championship teams has been the close-knit team chemistry. Shilling, along with Libero Mariah Mandelbaum, is trying to complete her Fresno Pacific career without ever having experienced a season-ending loss. Volleyball newcomers can find out all they need to know about the Libero position by going here: http://www.strength-and-power-for-volleyball.com/volleyball-rules-libero.html 

I told Mandelbaum I once wrote a libretto about a Libero who was a Libra and she asked Coach Janzen if she could go. For a quick round-up of the other Sunbirds volleyball players who, if there’s any justice, will soon have a major motion picture made about them, here you go:

Martina Gregusova, the NAIA Tournament MVP last year. She led the Sunbirds with 444 kills last season (And left nearly 500 opponents seriously wounded. I’m kidding!).

Keke Wang, an All-American at two positions. She will play middle blocker and opposite. (As opposed to playing Dan Blocker and similar)

Wang teams with the aforementioned Lisa Shilling to form one of the best middle blocker duos in the sport. Shilling was 2nd Team All American last year and is described by FPU as one of the driving forces behind the team’s success.

Mariah Mandelbaum, comfortable in her role as a “shortstop of volleyball” AKA Libero, led the Golden State Athletic Conference in digs last season.

Sophomores Erica Adachi and Emily Carroll return as the team’s primary setters. This Titanic Twosome combined for 1,482 assists in 2009.

Newcomers to the squad include Kathleen Anderson, Jessica Berg, Karah Mitchell and Brittany Sumpter.

The Sunbirds return the bulk of their 2009 title team but lose two players, including Tiffany Marinos, who has joined the team’s coaching staff. Coach Janzen, proving that for coaches the glass is always half-empty, said the team has a long way to go to get where they need to be and added this vintage example of coachspeak:

“We want to be better defensively. This program defensively has a higher standard than most. We have got to push defensive intensity.”

Do you get the feeling that a perfectionist coach like Dennis Janzen wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat over the 2 games his team has lost out of their last 112?

And the Sunbirds play in the GSAC, which may well be the best volleyball conference in the NAIA, boasting 4 of the nation’s Top 5 teams at the end of last season. Think about that as you absorb this next stat: FPU has won 52 straight against conference opponents.

The Sunbirds have got their eyes on history and if they can win their 4th straight NAIA volleyball title they will stand at the top of the sport along with the only 2 other teams to accomplish that task: the 1981-1984 Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans (Team motto: Live Long And Prosper) and the 1994-1997 BYU-Hawaii Seasiders (Team motto: Our Team’s Nickname Doesn’t Lend Itself Easily To Lame Jokes By Bloggers…That motto may sound a bit unwieldy but it looks great on a T-shirt.) There’s no doubt about it, Fresno Pacific University is to volleyball what UConn is to women’s hoops.

For streaming video of Coach Janzen and I singing the Fresno Pacific fight song click here: http://fpuathletics.com/

For another tongue-in-cheek yet informative NAIA volleyball story click here: https://glitternight.com/2010/07/23/multiple-choice-quiz-on-sioux-falls-volleyball-programs-recent-honor/

Balladeer’s Blog is not affiliated with or operated by the NAIA or the NCAA or any of their member institutions. 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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