ST. LOUIS -- Carthage (32-6, 7-0 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) advanced to the regional final of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship on Saturday with a 3-0 sweep (25-20, 25-19 and 27-25) of CCIW-member and No. 16 Elmhurst College (31-6).

The meeting was the fourth this year between the Lady Reds and the Bluejays. Carthage won a regular-season CCIW match at Elmhurst 3-1, lost a 3-2 contest at the Wisconsin-Platteville Tournament and won a 3-2 match at Tarble Arena to win the CCIW Women's Volleyball Tournament.

Carthage pulled away to an 18-11 lead in the first set but Elmhurst rallied and pulled to within two at 22-20 before the Lady Reds ran off the final three points for a 25-20 decision. The Lady Reds took eight of the last 11 points to win the second set and then, after the Bluejays pulled away to a 20-14 lead in set three, Carthage earned the final two points for a 27-25 win and a sweep of the Bluejays.

“We were down in sets two and three and came back to win, and that was great,” Carthage coach Leanne Ulmer said. “When we got down, I told our girls we just needed to control the passing. We seemed to take our foot off the pedal for a few minutes, and I wanted to make sure we were playing aggressively. I say what I say, and this team just responds. This group is so experience, and we've played such a tough schedule, we've been in those kinds of spots before.”

Michelle Madeja led Carthage with 12 kills and a .200 attack percentage while Dani Steffa had 10 kills with a .389 attack percentage and Lauren Dembkowski added 10 kills. Setter Drewann Pancratz averaged 8.00 assists per set. 

Antoney Veasy Smith led the Bluejays with 16 kills, while hitting .351. 

“Dani Steffa was awesome,” Ulmer said. “She and Jordan Burkholder are kind of our aces in the hole. Both have the ability to be game-changes, and tonight, Dani was just that.”

The run is part of Carthage's eighth NCAA appearances and seventh in a row. The 2007 team lost to Washington-St. Louis 3-1 at the Carthage Physical Education Center and the 2009 squad lost fell 3-0 in St. Louis.