Sophomore Sunny Bell pounded a career-high 20 kills on .548 hitting to pace Bellevue University to a 25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 25-15 win over Ottawa University in the NAIA opening round on Saturday.
The Bruins now advance to the 24-team NAIA national championship final site in Sioux City, Iowa from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 at the Tyson Events Center. This is Bellevue's sixth-straight appearance.
Bellevue has won 12 straight matches, improving to 35-9. The 35 wins is a school record. BU snapped Ottawa's 18-match winning streak as the Braves ended their season with a 30-6 mark.
Junior Annie Benson collected her 13th double-double, finishing with 14 kills, 14 digs, and two service aces. Junior Caitlyn Rueth registered 10 kills and three blocks in the win.
Five Bruins finished with double-figure digs totals, led by Meghan Evans' 19 digs. Evans notched her first double-double, adding 10 assists. Bellevue held a 78-62 advantage in digs, holding the Braves to a .132 hitting percentage.
Senior setter Jordan Broady produced her 16th double-double with 44 assists and 11 digs, while adding five kills and a match-high four service aces in directing the BU offense to a .268 hitting percentage.
Ottawa was led by Taylor Bridges' 15 kills and 12 digs.
Benson paced the Bruins in the opening set with six kills as Bellevue led the entire set, hitting .375 while limiting Ottawa to .128 hitting en route to the 25-17 win.
Ottawa responded in the second set as Bridge registered eight kills on .500 hitting as the Braves scored the final three points on a pair of blocks and a Bruin attack error, knotting the match at a set apiece with the 25-22 OU win. Bell finished with five kills on seven swings in the second frame.
Bell took over the match in the third set, hitting .667 with six kills on nine errorless swings. Bellevue raced out to a 12-6 lead before Ottawa responded with a 6-0 run highlighted by a pair of kills by Bridge and a block by Bridge and Nicole Gingery, tying the set at 12-12. The Bruins pulled away with four kills by Bell and three apiece by Rueth and Benson as BU closed the game on a 13-5 run to take the third set, 25-18.
The two teams traded points in the beginning of the fourth set with two ties at 7-7 and 9-all. An 11-3 run fueled by three kills from Bell gave Bellevue a commanding 20-12 advantage. The Bruins ended the match on a kill from Benson and a block by Benson and Alannah VanGorder as BU won the match with the 25-15 victory.