Dec. 3, 2010


By Mark Bedics

After a three-year absence, Tampa is back in the NCAA Division II womens volleyball title game.

The Spartans held off a pesky Central Missouri squad, 25-17, 25-21, 25-21, Friday night in the semifinals of the Division II National Championships Festival.

"I was very proud of our performance tonight,” said Tampa head coach Chris Catanach, who was also at the helm of the 2006 NCAA title team. We played efficient, stingy volleyball. We hit for a very good percentage and blocked well.”

In the first set, Tampa jumped to an early 15-9 lead before Central Missouri rallied on a 6-2 run. After the Spartans called timeout, they came out strong to finish off the set, 25-17.

The second set was similar as the Jennies hung tough early and held a 13-12 advantage before the Spartans took control. Tampa went on a 9-2 run to build a 21-15 lead and held on for a 25-12 win from there.

The final set was back and forth until the end. The two teams were tied at 21 before Tampa won the final four points for a 25-21 victory.

I thought Tampa was terrific tonight,” said Central Missouri head coach Flip Piontek. They touched every ball we hit. I thought we played OK and played really competitively but they just didnt make many mistakes. They are the No. 2 team in the nation for a reason.”

Tampa, which moves to 31-3 on the year, was led by Jessica Yingling, who had 10 kills, no errors and a .400 hitting percentage. Melissa Vanderhall added a team-high 12 kills to go along with 10 digs, while Julie Howlett finished with a team-high 20 digs.

Central Missouri finished 32-5. The Jennies had 14 kills from Paula Harris, 11 from Allie Huffman and nine from Bradye Peniston.