Nov. 19, 2009

Courtesy of West Texas A&M Athletics

The #5-ranked West Texas A&M Lady Buffs were right at home in the first match of the NCAA South Central Regional tournament, defeating Truman State in three sets with scores of 21-25, 25-7, and 25-18. The Lady Buffs move on to face the winner #2-seed Washburn and #7-seed Nebraska-Omaha.

The win lifts WT to 35-3 overall, while Truman finishes their season with a record of 24-13.

“I want them to run their own team,” said Lady Buffs’ head coach Jason Skoch. “Our biggest vices at the beginning of the year were that we didn’t start strong. It’s still not always great, but it has obviously gotten a lot better, and I’m happy with the win.”

The Lady Buffs started strong and fast in the first set, as Natalie Johnson (Sr., OH, Cortez, Colo.) put down three kills and Laura Prinsen (Sr., RS, Spring, Texas) and Melissa Harper (Sr., MB, Peoria, Ariz.) put up three blocks to go up 8-2. WT maintained the lead throughout the set, but Truman put together a few runs to battle back to within one point at 21-20. Two Bulldog attack errors, put WT back on top and Lauren Purdy (So., MB, Arlington, Texas) finished the set with a service ace.

The second set started much the same as the first, as Johnson put down two kills and Harper, Johnson, and Prinsen put up big blocks to go up 8-1. Back-to-back kills by Purdy and a back-row kill by Prinsen gave the Lady Buffs an 11-point lead with a score of 14-3. They continued a 10-point streak before giving up four points to bring the score to 19-7. Back-to-back kills by Erika Dupree (So., OH, Mesquite, Texas) started another 6-point streak to close the set 25-7.  

“That was probably the best one set we’ve put together,” Skoch said. “We’ve played better complete matches, but we won.”

Prinsen hit three-consecutive kills to start the offense in the third set. WT continued to put together streaks from the service line as Purdy put down a kill from an overpass followed by a kill from Dupree to go up 14-4. Truman wasn’t going to go down without a fight, going on a 5-1 run. WT struggled to put away the match, giving away five unanswered points at match point, but an attack error by Truman finished the set and match for WT with a 25-18 final.

Johnson led the team in kills with nine and a hitting clip of .273, followed by Purdy, Prinsen, and Harper with eight kills each. Dupree tallied five kills and Lauren Thedford (Jr., OH/DS, Carrollton, Texas) put down four kills.

Katie Rickwartz (Sr., S, Canyon, Texas) tallied 36 assists and led the team to a .272 hitting percentage. She also tallied a double-double with 14 digs and added three kills and a service ace.

Defensively, the Lady Buffs put up eight blocks, led by Harper with six block assists and two solo blocks. Prinsen added three block assists, followed by Johnson with two, and Thedford with one. Prinsen led the team in digs with 16. Also recording double-digit digs was Lauren Beville (Fr., L, Hereford, Texas) with 12 and Thedford with 10.

“I think we were more prepared for the playoffs today,” Skoch said. “It’s about discipline and holding every player to the same level. We just took care of our side today.”

The Lady Buffs advance to take on the winner of #2-seed Washburn and #7-seed Nebraska-Omaha on Friday, Nov. 20, at 6:00 p.m.