ST. PAUL, Minn. — St. Thomas (Minn.) (37-1) topped St. Benedict (29-6) for the third time this season and claimed the regional volleyball championship for the third year in a row with Saturday’s 3-1 victory at home. St. Thomas won 23-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-22.
Coach Thanh Pham’s team advances to the eight-team Division III national tournament Nov. 15-17 in Holland, Mich. The Tommies are 9-0 in regional play over the last three seasons.
“I [am] super proud of our team,” UST’s Pham said. “To beat a really tough team like St. Ben’s three times in one season is not easy. Hopefully, our tournament experience will benefit us. If we play like we know we can, we should be in every match.”
Tommie sophomore middle blocker Kelly Foley had six blocks and 15 kills and hit .343, and was chosen the regional tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Jill Greenfield added nine kills, four aces, five blocks and 24 digs to help UST close out the tough Blazers.
St. Thomas has won 32 consecutive matches on the season and 28 in a row on its home court after losing the inaugural match in Sept. 2010. Its 37 wins is one off the conference record for one season. The Tommies won five postseason matches in the last 10 days, four with notable comebacks. UST improved to 13-4 in the postseason over the last three seasons.
UST lost the first set and trailed 15-12 in second set before using a 13-3 run to even the match at one. UST used a 12-2 run in the third set to build 21-9 lead. The Toms closed out the match with 7-3 run in the fourth to rally from 19-18 deficit.
The Blazers had many sharp stretches, but were hurt by six service errors, including four in the fourth set, while UST had none on the match.