The Cougars gave it everything they had tonight in the NAIA Volleyball National Championship match, but it just wasn’t enough as they fell to three-time defending National Champion Fresno Pacific (Calif.) University 3-0. Columbia ends their 2010 run with a 42-3 record.

Columbia may have ended the season with a loss, but they played with heart right till the end and surpassed their fifth seeded expectations. They proved to be one of the best tonight as they appeared in their seventh championship final. The Cougars struggled to get a rhythm going but never gave up the fight, dropping the match in three sets, 25-20, 25-18 and 25-19.

The Sunbirds from Fresno Pacific advanced through the tournament completely undefeated, not dropping a single set, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1998 when the Cougars did it on the way to their first title. The Sunbirds took down the second seeded University of Texas at Brownsville in three games this morning in the semifinals. Columbia’s other two losses came at the hands of the Scorpions from Brownsville early in the season.

The Cougars marched through the 2010 national championship with a 5-1 record, going 3-0 in pool play and 2-1 in the championship bracket. Columbia recorded victories over Oklahoma City University, Rocky Mountain (Mont.) College and No. 8 seeded Azusa Pacific University to prevail as the top team in its pool. The Cougars then knocked off No. 6 seeded California Baptist University in five games during quarterfinal action and No. 1 ranked Lee (Tenn.) University in three games to advance to the title match before falling to Fresno Pacific.

Vesna Trivunovic finished with 10 kills while Serena Jenkins had nine. Ola Shawky and Nicole Murphy each chipped in eight. Setter Paula Ferreira finished with 34 assists and five digs. The lone senior for the Cougars, libero Tally Mattos, led Columbia defensively as she has done all season, totaling 13 digs.

Following the match, Ferreira, Mattos and Trivunovic were named to the all-tournament squad.

Story courtesy of Columbia Athleics.