Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Emporia State Athletics

In a three set match that saw 23 ties and seven lead changes, Brittney Miller had 16 kills on .367 hitting for #5 Emporia State in a 28-26, 25-17, 31-29 victory over #4 West Texas A&M in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional semifinals in White Auditorium.

The Lady Buffs jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start the match only to see the Hornets go on a 5-1 run of their own to tie the score at 6-6. WTAMU used a 5-2 run to take a 15-12 lead, before ESU answered with a 4-0 run to take a 16-15 lead. From that point neither team could get more than a one point lead until ESU scored the final two points off an Arica Shepard kill and block by Hannah Carter and Miller. ESU had three set points before finally sealing the win.

ESU led from start to finish in set two, jumping out to leads of 5-1 and 10-3. Shepard had four of her 11 kills during the second set.

The Hornets carried the momentum of the second set into the third as they scored seven of the first eight points of the set. The Lady Buffs responded with an 11-5 run to tie the score at 12-12 on a Melissa Harper kill. ESU led 22-19 before Harper brought WTAMU back with a pair of kills and a block assist to tie the set at 22.

After trading points ESU faced their first match point at 24-23 when Natalie Johnson got a kill and Ashley Dyer and Laura Prinsen combined on a block assist to give WT set point at 25-24. Megan Koster's kill tied the score again only to see Johnson give the Lady Buffs their second set point with a kill of her own. Shepard tied the score at 26 and a Katie Rickwartz attack error gave ESU their second match point at 27-26. Prinsen tied the score at 27 with a kill and then combined with Harper on a block to give the Lady Buffs their third set point at 28-27. ESU stayed in the set on a Prinsen attack error and Miller's kill gave ESU the lead at 29-28 for their third set point.

Lauren Thedford tied the score at 29 with a kill before Harper's attack error gave ESU set point for the fourth time. Miller sent ESU to the regional finals with her 11th kill of the third set.

Miller was joined in double figure kills by Shepard and Koster for ESU while the trio of Laura Prinsen, Melissa Harper and Natalie Johnson were in double figures for West Texas. Amy Byfield led all players with 21 digs for ESU and Ting Liu had 45 assists and nine digs for the Hornets.

Emporia State will play Truman for the regional championship on Sunday at 5 p.m. It is the first time in school history ESU has advanced to the regional finals.