In 2005, California Baptist University did something that hadn’t been done since the 1990’s when it won its second of back-to-back NAIA Championships, slaying a goliath of sorts along the way to check in as the No. 3 moment on our countdown.
After four years of missing out on national tournament play, CBU made its way back into the postseason with 28-4 regular season record. The Lancers then went on a 7-0 run at the national tournament to capture the program’s first ever national title.
The defending champion Lancers came into the 2005 season with high expectations, but it was Fresno Pacific that stole the headlines all year long, tearing through an undefeated regular season and into the playoffs as the NAIA’s top seed.
When CBU lost its final match of pool play it set up a meeting in the quarterfinals with the Sunbirds, who up until that point were 38-0 and had dropped a total of just three sets all season long.
The Lancers would double that game loss total, defeating FPU 3-1 to end the Sunbird’s season and move on to the semis. CBU had already lost to FPU three times coming into that match.
After the teams split the first two games (33-31, 26-30), CBU came back to close the Sunbirds out 33-31, 30-26, pulling off the shocking upset.
A 3-2 win over Madonna (Mich.) then set up a meeting with Columbia (Mo.), the team that had defeated the Lancers in pool play and also the last program to win back-to-back NAIA titles, in the finals. The Cougars were playing in their sixth national final in eight years at that point.
CBU left no doubt about its consecutive title aspirations that Saturday evening in San Diego, however, sweeping Columbia 3-0 (30-26, 31-29, 30-28) behind 14 kills from Verania Willis and 11 from Yudelka Bonilla.
“This one was so much more difficult than last year’s,” said then CBU Head Coach Ryan McGuyre, after the team finished off their title run. “We had so many more struggles and had to deal with countless injuries all season long. We were wounded warriors but battled through.”
The Lancers’ 71 wins between 2004 and 2005 are still the highest total of any two year span in program history kicking off a run of seven straight quarterfinal or better finishes at the NAIA National Tournament that led up to the transition to NCAA Division II.
CBU and the transition to the NCAA series timeline
June 14 – Introduction to the series
June 18 – Moment No. 9 - 1999 Men's Water Polo
June 19 – Moment No. 8 - 2010 Baseball
June 20 – Moment No. 7 – 1974 Men’s Tennis
June 21 – Moment No. 6 – 2011 Women’s Golf
June 24 – Moment No. 5 – 2009 Softball
June 26 – Moment No. 3 – 2005 Women’s Volleyball
June 27 – Moment No. 2
June 28 – Moment No. 1
July 1 – A comprehensive look back at more than 45 years with the NAIA
July 8 – A look back at the last three years of transition to the NCAA