St. Thomas (Minn.) sweeps Elmhurst, moves on to championship game
HOLLAND, Mich. -- St. Thomas (Minn.) stepped up big in the clutch Friday, and the reward was a ticket to Saturday's NCAA championship match.
The Tommies (39-1) pulled out three close wins to eliminate Elmhurst in Friday's national semifinals. UST outlasted the Jays 25-22, 25-23, 26-24 and extended its season win streak to 34 matches.
The Toms will play Calvin Saturday for the championship. Calvin, playing just 37 miles away from its campus this weekend, helped put 2,000 fans in the stands for its 3-1 win against Christopher Newport on Friday.
The Tommies are the first MIAC team to reach the DIII championship match, and UST set a conference season record with its 39 victories.
The Tommies have won nine consecutive sets in the postseason since dropping the opening set to St. Ben's in the regional final.
The Tommies rewarded coach Thanh Pham (287-63), who triumphed in his 350th match in 10 seasons at St. Thomas. St. Thomas improved to 13-3 in playoff competition during the last four seasons.
UST had an unusually balanced stat sheet. Jill Greenfield had 11 kills and 11 digs for her 31st career double-double. Kaiti Wachter had 24 digs, Kelly Foley had eight kills and four blocks, Paige Brimeyer and Nicole Potts each had seven kills, Mackenzie Piechowski had six kills and two blocks and Katie Maher had 18 assists and seven digs.
In the first set, St. Thomas rallied from a 14-5 deficit to stay close, then used a 9-3 run to close out a 25-22 win. Set two was even throughout as the Toms got a kill to end it, 25-23. UST trailed 23-22 in the third set but scored the last three points to end the match.