Rand: Concordia's sixth volleyball title a struggle

  • Updated: December 10, 2012 - 11:11 PM

Cassie Haag, a senior middle blocker from Plymouth, helped the Golden Bears on Saturday to their sixth consecutive NCAA Division II title, tying a volleyball all-division record.

Concordia-St. Paul’s Cassie Haag worked high above the net during NCAA Division II tournament play.

Photo: , Concordia-St. Paul

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Cassie Haag and her Concordia-St. Paul volleyball teammates left Florida and arrived in the Twin Cities shortly after noon Sunday -- right in the middle of the Storm of the Century (or at least of the past year).

Not even that sudden jolting transformation from sun to snow was enough to dampen her mood.

"I'm on Cloud 9," she said Monday afternoon, hours before her team was set to attend a public celebration at a local bar and grill. "I keep seeing people, and I don't even know what to tell them."

That kind of euphoria is explained by the perfect end to a hard-to-beat career. Haag, a senior middle blocker from Plymouth, helped the Golden Bears on Saturday to their sixth consecutive NCAA Division II title, tying a volleyball all-division record. She has been a part of the past four -- taking home all-tournament honors this time to go with her All-American status.

Winning sometimes feels more real after a struggle, and this championship was not easy for Concordia. After dropping the first two sets to the University of Tampa, the Golden Bears won the final three by the slimmest of margins: 25-23, 25-23, 16-14.

"It came down to heart because if you look at stats, Tampa was better than us in every category. But we won the points that mattered," Haag said. "It was that, 'at last, we did this' feeling. We came together when we needed to. It was a total team effort. To be out there with those girls who are my best friends ... I was just giddy."

So, too, was her head coach, Brady Starkey. He has created a dynasty at Concordia, crediting the steady flow of talented in-state players for the program's success.

"The biggest thing is how strong the club programs are here in Minnesota," he said, noting the Gophers nearly reached the Division I Final Four while St. Thomas won the Division III national crown. "It just allows us to keep picking up players that are talented, and a lot come in and have an immediate impact."

On the flip side, Haag credits Starkey and his assistants for the sustained success.

"Just like every other year, this year is about the coaches," she said. "They are the best coaches I've ever had. They know how to motivate us."

If that's the case, championship No. 7 in a row -- even without the graduating Haag -- must be on the way, right?

"We're going to enjoy this one for a little bit," Starkey said, "and then we'll start thinking about it."


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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle 2 Bottom 9th Inning
Texas 1
Boston 1 Top 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
Colorado 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Diego 1
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 1st OT 0:01
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 134 2nd OT 0:10
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 18 1st Qtr 5:24
Denver 10
LA Clippers 6 1st Qtr 8:05
Portland 13
Phoenix 13 1st Qtr 5:09
Sacramento 13
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 0 1st Prd :35
Anaheim 2
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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