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The NAIA championship has also reached the hot stages of the season for both men and women. The men’s finals concluded this past week as the women’s teams just arrived in Sioux City, Iowa, to compete in the NAIA National Championship from May 27-1.

On April 12th, the list of teams classified at the national finals was released, in which Leonardo Annichini with Grand View University was always in first place in the ranking after the conference victory against Park, still undefeated with a 22-0 record. Rounding out the podium are Benedictine Mesa (defending champions) and Campbellsville. Another revelation of the first part of the championship Vanguard University, in fifth place, in which we find Filippo Meoni (Marco’s son). In seventh place is Missouri Baptist University with Italians Daniel Borsi and Francesco Michielini who lost the conference semifinals to GVU but still earned qualification to the finals thanks to an 18-6 record. Just below we find Park’s Pirates who, winning 19 out of 24 games, also qualified for the finals. Our Luciano Bucci was awarded 1st team all conference and is currently in third place in the entire NAIA in total assists. Unfortunately, Daniel Cogo’s Midway University, after missing four games due to Covid, lost in the conference tournament to Campbellsville and finished the season with a 12-12 record.

Predictions largely respected and a lot of Italy in the final stages of the tournament: Park University, after a historic qualification among the top 4 at the Cannes Stadium, lost 3-0 in the first semifinal against the favorite Grand View, while in the other semifinal Vanguard University lost 1-3 against the reigning champions Benedictine Mesa. Clear success in the final for Grand View (3-0), who had been chasing the title since last year, when the pandemic had abruptly interrupted the season and first title for Leonardo Annichini in his first year as a student-athlete in the States.

As for the girls, the opening rounds were played on April 17 that determined the access to the final stages and the composition of the groups for the tournament that will be played in the usual Sioux City, Iowa. In second place in the ranking, only after Jamestown, we find Park University of Vera Beltrame and Margherita Marconi who, after winning the Conference title, won the opening round against Indiana University East. In the bracket of the national finals, they will face Bellevue and Dordt on April 27 and 28. Unfortunately, Xavier University of the Italian trio of Linda Mungai, Angela Egonu and Emanuela Riglioni failed to enter the final stages by being eliminated in the opening round by Concordia 3-1. However, it remains a positive season for PatKendrick’s team that ends with an 18-5 record to also take home the Conference title.