BYU-Hawaii makes goal a reality by winning national volleyball title

The BYU-Hawaii women's volleyball team entered the 1994 season with one goal in mind - the NAIA national championship.

The goal became a reality Saturday, Dec. 3, at Maclellan Gymnasium in Chattanooga, Tenn., as the Seasiders overwhelmed Western Oregon State in straight games, 15-5, 15-9, 15-6, to capture the national title.The win gave BYU-Hawaii its fifth national championship in the past nine years, tying the University of Hawaii at Hilo for the most NAIA national championships won. The victory also set a record of 62 national tournament victories and sent a message to the rest of the country that more are probably on the way.

"It was definitely one of my most satisfying titles because we are such a young team," said head coach Wilfred Navalta in a post-tournament interview. "This team has a lot of heart. They are also very teachable and very humble."

The Seasiders, who captured NAIA national titles in 1986, '87, '91 and '92, won the 1994 championship with three juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. Daniela Carneiro, an All-American who was named the tournament's most valuable player, is a sophomore, and Becky Laubach, who was also named to the all-tournament first team, is just a freshman.

BYU-Hawaii entered the 1994 national tournament with a record of 24-5 and the NAIA's No. 1 ranking.

After arriving in Chattanooga on Saturday, Nov. 26, the Seasiders attended Church on Sunday at the Brainerd Ward, Chattanooga Tennessee Stake. The team presented a special program to the young men and young women of the ward, which was highlighted by a musical medley of Primary songs and the Hawaiian song "Kanaka Waiwai." Bishop Kenneth Burke was so moved that he asked the team to present the song in sacrament meeting.

"We really felt the love and support from the members of the Church in the Chattanooga area," said Tauna Navalta, wife of Coach Navalta. "We had members from several of the wards and branches in the tri-state area come to support us. Many brought banners and signs to cheer us on."

Members from Georgia and Alabama as well as Tennessee showed up to support BYU-Hawaii.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the NAIA annual banquet, Coach Navalta received the association's highest honor when he was officially inducted into its Hall of Fame. (See separate article on this page.)

The 1994 championship run began with victories over Doane College, Western Oregon State, St. Edwards of Texas and No. 8-ranked Rockhurst College. The Seasiders then entered the quarterfinals against Moorehead State of Minnesota. BYU-Hawaii was too much for the Dragons, winning three games to one to advance to the semifinals against No. 5-ranked Fresno Pacific.

The Seasiders made quick work of the Sunbirds, 15-4, 15-8, 15-10, setting up the title match with Western Oregon State.

"It was a sweet victory because we had high expectations at the beginning of the year," Coach Navalta said. "We really had to work extremely hard to get here. I think our dedication to our conditioning program helped us win the national title."

The Seasiders' victory over Western Oregon State marks the second time BYU-Hawaii has defeated the Wolves for a national title. The other came in the 1987 title match. The seven straight wins in the tournament ran BYU-Hawaii's NAIA tournament winning streak to 21 straight. The Seasiders also swept the 1991 and '92 titles without losing a match.

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