Nov. 21, 2009

WARRENSBURG, Mo. - The West Texas A&M Lady Buffs upset the #1-seed Central Missouri Jennies on their home court in the final match of the NCAA South Central Regional tournament. They took the match in four sets with scores of 20-25, 25-22, 25-18, and 25-21.

WT will continue their season at the NCAA Elite Eight with an overall record of 37-3, while UCM finishes their season at with an impressive overall record of 34-5.

"We won," said head coach Jason Skoch. "I think the sweetest thing was that we had to play three great ranked teams in this tournament. I really believe that this is one of the toughest regions, and I'm thrilled to get the win."

Both teams came ready for a battle, as the first set saw multiple ties, lead changes, and errors. The Lady Buffs trailed through the end of the set, keeping the score tight but struggling to put together points. WT battled to within one point at 20-21, but the Jennies put down two service aces in a four-point run to finish the set 20-25.

The second set saw a change in pace from WT early on as the team scored the first five points with two kills from Laura Prinsen (Sr., RS, Spring, Texas) and one each from Lauren Purdy (So., MB, Peoria, Ariz.) and Natalie Johnson (Sr., OH, Cortez, Colo.) WT led by as many as six points several times in the set, but Central came back to within one point at 20-19. Two back-to-back kills by Central tied the set at 21-21, but WT maintained control to take the set at 25-22.

Melissa Harper (Sr., MB, Peoria, Ariz.) continued to be a dominate force in the middle with seven kills in the second set to total 10 kills in the first two sets.

The third set started again as a back-and-forth battle, with the set tied at 7-7. Four Lady Buff kills and a service ace by Katie Rickwartz (Sr., S, Canyon, Texas) gave the team a 5-point lead at 12-7. Central came back to within three points, but a Rickwartz setter dump kill, followed by two kills by Erika Dupree (So., OH, Mesquite, Texas) put the score at 22-15. WT finished the set with a great dig and set for a kill by Purdy.

Central Missouri took the first two points in the fourth set and the set tied several times. At 2-3, WT went on a 6-1 run to go up 8-4, and did not lose the lead. The match ended with a net violation by Central Missouri for a final score of 25-21.

Harper once again proved unstoppable, leading the team in kills with 18 in 43 attempts for a hitting clip of .349. Prinsen turned in a double-double with 16 kills and 17 digs. Rickwartz also tallied double-double numbers with 49 assists and 11 digs.

The Lady Buffs' defense was led by Lauren Thedford (Jr., OH/DS, Carrollton, Texas) with 18, followed by Prinsen with 17. Freshman defensive specialists Lauren Beville (Hereford, Texas) and Kelsey Mangum tallied 15 digs each, followed by Rickwartz with 11.

Purdy was strong at the net, with four block assists in the team's four total blocks.

Melissa Harper, Laura Prinsen, Katie Rickwartz, and Lauren Purdy were all named to the regional all-tournament team.

The Lady Buffs continue their season at the NCAA Elite Eight tournament. The teams and host site will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 22. This will be WT's 11th Elite Eight appearance.