Columbia College volleyball falls to Concordia in NAIA Championship match

Saturday, December 1, 2012 | 11:06 p.m. CST; updated 11:13 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 1, 2012

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — After a five-set win over the University of Texas at Brownsville early Saturday afternoon, the Columbia College volleyball team only had a few hours to rest before suiting back up to take on Concordia University Irvine.

You could tell from the first volley of the match against Concordia that the Cougars didn't have the same spark they did earlier in the day.

Concordia won the match in four sets, going 25-19, 20-25, 25-21 and 25-19.

The Eagles came out strong, winning the first set. Columbia College rallied to take the second set, but after falling behind early in the third set, never recovered.

Cougars' coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said the lack of down time between matches definitely factored into their play.

Following the match against UTB, the Cougars hardly had time to eat a small lunch, shower and get back on the bus to the event center.

"We're used to scouting teams," Wrye-Washington said. "We didn't even have time to read the scouting report. I didn't feel like we had that planning time in between."

Despite the outcome, the news wasn't all bad for the Cougars. Columbia College setter Paula Ferreira was crowned the All-Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Wrye-Washington described Ferreira as the "heart and soul of the team" and applauded her work ethic throughout the tournament.

"She's a student of the game," Wrye-Washington said. "She studies the game plan. Every thing she does is what we want to recruit to Columbia College in a student-athlete."

For Ferriera, the game was special not just because of her MVP award, but because it was her last volleyball game.

Her parents, who traveled all the way from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to see her play in her final match, sat in the crowd wearing matching homemade T-shirts that had pictures of Paula on the front and could be heard throughout the arena cheering for their daughter during the game.

"I'm really happy they were here," Ferreira said. "They have been really supportive parents. They coached me from when I was 13 years old. For me to be able to show them everything I have on the court is a big thing."

Columbia College libero Elena Berroteran was the unsung hero for the Cougars in the match. A painful knee injury had kept Berroteran out of the American Midwest Conference championship game and practices the two weeks prior to the NAIA tournament.

Berroteran led the Cougars with 20 digs during the match.

"She plays her heart out," Wrye-Washington said. "She plays with heart."

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