For the fifth-time in program history, Park University captured the NAIA men’s volleyball National Invitational Championship with an exciting sweep in the championship match last month.
Ranked No. 6 entering the tournament, the Pirates ended up with a 36-34, 25-21, 25-16 sweep of No. 1-ranked Grand View (Iowa) on Saturday, April 22 in St. Louis. They finished 26-5 overall, a record that included a loss to Grand View to start the national championship.
Park has now won national titles in 2003, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2017.
Mike Talamantes earned coach of the year honors, while Daniel Arteaga was tournament MVP for Park. Oscar Tuero also earned a spot on the National Invitational all-tournament team for the Pirates.
Park forged a comeback in a marathon first set to start the upset.
Grand View led the Pirates for most of the first set, but after being down 21-16, Arteaga had a soft tip over the net for a kill. He tied the score at 22-22 moments later with another kill.
Park’s Murilo Pereira had a kill on set point to tie the score again at 24-24, and a block from Leandro Sodre and Milos Trivunic gave the Pirates their first set point with a 25-24 lead. The teams then went back and forth before the Vikings had an attacking error to lose the first set, 36-34.
Park jumped out in front of Grand View to start the second set, but the Vikings briefly led 15-14. With three more ties, the Pirates closed the set on a 11-6 run, culminating with a kill on set point from Arteaga.
Dylan Riley’s three straight service aces gave Park an 18-13 lead in the third set, and the Pirates pulled away for the sweep.
Arteaga led Park’s offense with 29 kills, while Sodre added seven. Trivunic finished with 48 assists in the three sets.
Talamantes now has three national titles as the head men’s coach at Park, and he captured the 2014 NAIA women’s volleyball national championship.