Playing with machine-like precision, nerves of steel and emotional electricity, the sixth-seeded Sunbirds completed their march to the NAIA national championship with a sweep of Hawaii Pacific 15-3, 17-15 in Hawaii. It was Fresno Pacific’s first national title in any sport. Going into the tournament, the odds appeared stacked against Coach Dennis Janzen’s team, but the Sunbirds defeated host BYU-Hawaii, previously undefeated and ranked No.2 in the national, before 3,000 fans and came back the next day to twice beat Hawaii Pacific. Sunbirds middle blocker Jessica Bennett, who had nine kills in the championship match, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Joining Bennett as NAIA All-Americans were setter Melanie Mariano and outside hitter Sevi Berryman. Janzen was named NAIA National Coach of the Year as the Sunbirds set a school record for victories in a 46-9 campaign. Six teams had a chance at the title entering the last day, but Fresno Pacific dominated when it counted by not losing a single set in the elimination round. The Sunbirds had qualified for the nationals by defeating Cal Baptist in the District III championships. The 1989 title provided a foundation for future success that would include five more NAIA national volleyball championships and an all-time record of 912-226 before Fresno Pacific transitioned to NCAA Divison II competition.
The team: head coach Dennis Janzen, assistant coach Karen Chandler, assistant coach Rudy Dyck, manager Andy Herrick; players: Jessica Bennett, Sevi Berryman, Natalie Carter, Debbie Guck, Angela Holguin (team captain), Michala Jarmin, Melanie Mariano (team captain), Sue Milani, Liz Miller, Irene Robles, Melissa Tennant, and Iris Womack.