The NAIA championship has also reached the hot stages of the season for both men and women. In the past week the men's finals have been concluded while the women's teams have just arrived in Sioux City, Iowa, to compete in the NAIA National Championship from 27th to 1st of May.
Last April 12th, the list of classified teams in 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 unbeaten with a record of 22-0. Rounding out the podium are Benedictine Mesa (reigning champions) and Campbellsville. Another revelation of the first part of the championship was Vanguard University, in fifth place, in which we find Filippo Meoni (son of Marco). In seventh place Missouri Baptist University with the Italians Daniel Borsi and Francesco Michielini who lost the conference semifinal against GVU but still qualified for the final stages thanks to a record of 18-6. Just below we find the Park's Pirates who by winning 19 games out of 24 are also qualified for the finals. Our Luciano Bucci was awarded 1st team all conference and is currently third 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 from 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 to the 3-0 defeat in the first semifinal against the favorite Grand View, while in the other semifinal Vanguard University loses 1-3 against the reigning champions of 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, on April 17th the opening rounds were played which 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 group of the national finals they will face Bellevue and Dordt on 27 and 28 April. Unfortunately, Xavier University of the Italian trio made up of Linda Mungai, Angela Egonu and Emanuela Riglioni was unable to enter the final stages by being eliminated in the opening round by Concordia 3-1. However, a positive season remains for Pat Kendrick's team which ends with a record of 18-5 and also takes home the Conference title.