The Pirates swept defending champion University of Texas at Brownsville on Dec. 6 at Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, completing the only undefeated season for any collegiate team in 2014. Camila Leite, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Brazil, recorded an ace block for the final point of a 25-23, 25-19, 25-16 victory in the title match.
“I didn’t even see the last point,” Park coach Mike Talamantes said. “I don’t know what happened, but I saw the girls on the ground celebrating and crying. I am so happy for our seniors. This is theirs. This belongs to everyone in this program but especially to our seniors.”
Wendy Romero earned tournament MVP honors after recording 16 kills in the championship match.
Park survived a five-set test against Biola (Calif.) University (25-23, 20-25, 27-29, 25-16, 15-12) in the semifinals behind 24 kills and seven blocks from Romero and another eight blocks from Sabrina de Silva. It marked the first and only five-set match for the Pirates during their 40-0 campaign.
Brownsville led in each set of the championship match but were unable to hold any of the advantages and were swept away in the third and final set.
“I still wasn’t sure, even up 17-12 (in the third set),” Talamantes said. “Anyone who watched these matches all week knows that nothing is certain. Biola came back to beat us when we were up eight late, so we needed to keep pushing.”
Park previously won four national championships in men’s volleyball, still considered an emerging sport in the NAIA. Those titles were won in 2003, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
Romero was named American Volleyball Coaches Association NAIA Midwest Region player of the year, announced at the conclusion of pool play for the NAIA Volleyball National Championships. Talamantes earned coach of the year honors while Vinicius Baiga nabbed assistant coach of the year honors.
Park setter Juliana Barros and right-side hitter Wanessa Siqueira joined Romero on the all-region team.