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Concordia soars to impressive heights

Eagles women's volleyball team, despite having no seniors, went 37-2 and took runner-up honors in NAIA.

December 10, 2011|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Concordia's Brooke Marino won NAIA Player of the Year honors this past season.
Concordia's Brooke Marino won NAIA Player of the…

Dan Fisher's cell phone still starts with area-code 808, even though he moved from Hawaii to take the women's volleyball coaching job at Concordia University several months ago.

He really hasn't had time to do much of anything other than coach, virtually hopping off the airplane and landing in his new digs at the Irvine campus just in time to meet his players, the administration and get started.

The Eagles had a remarkable season, going 18-0 in winning the Golden State Athletic Conference and rising to the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA poll.

They won a record 36 matches in a row, the streak coming to a disappointing end in the national championship match, a four-set loss to the University of Texas-Brownsville on Dec. 3 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Now, just a week after the season has ended, Fisher can relax a little, though his head is still spinning.

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"As a competitor I probably need a little more time to fully appreciate the season," said Fisher, who left his job as associate head coach at the University of Hawaii to coach at Concordia. "Certainly coming in I wouldn't say we had low expectations, but I didn't know what to expect. We were all kind of in the same boat together, with a new staff, a new team.

"As we were progressing throughout the season, it became pretty apparent we could do something special."

Along the way, the Eagles had plenty of big wins, beating No. 3 Azusa Pacific (three times), No. 5 Point Loma, No. 6 Fresno Pacific (twice) and No. 10 Vanguard.

But the win that really vaulted the Eagles to the top, both in the national poll and in their minds, was the win over Texas-Brownsville, No. 1 at the time, on Oct. 29.

From there, the Eagles breezed through the rest of the regular season and won their first five matches in the national tournament, setting up a rematch with Texas-Brownsville in the national final.

"I'm still trying to figure everything out," Fisher said when asked what went wrong in the championship match. "The simple answer is we couldn't slow down their middles as effectively as we would have liked.

"The [match] we played here we won, but the games we won (in five sets) were very close and the games they won they kind of blew us out. They're a very strong team, certainly stronger than us physically. They're the kind of team that when they get up, they play really well."

As time separates Fisher from that final match, he'll feel better about the season. But now, it's still too fresh.

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