ST. LOUIS -- Carthage (33-6, 7-0 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) is on its way to its first appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. Carthage won the regional championship on Sunday afternoon with a come-from-behind 3-2 win against Washington-St. Louis (34-2) by scores of 20-25, 12-25, 25-23, 25-22 and 15-11.  The Bears' only other loss this year was to then-No. 3 Emory on Oct. 16.

In the regional championship match, Washington U. never trailed in the first set, although the score was tied at both 11-11 and 13-13.  The Bears opened a four-point lead at 20-16 before the Lady Reds scored twice to close the gap to 20-18. Washington went back up by four 23-19 extended its lead to five and won the set 25-20. The Bears broke open the second set by extending a 12-8 lead to 17-8 with five unanswered points. Washington maintained at least a nine-point spread the rest of the way, going on to win by 13 points 25-12.

Carthage jumped out to a 6-1 lead in a critical set three and led by as much as six at 15-9. Following a couple of big kills by Drew Hargrave, Washington tied the contest at 18-18. 

Carthage was still leading by three at 22-19 before the Bears used a 4-1 run to tie the set but the Lady Reds took the final two points to win. Carthage fell behind in the fourth set by six points. The Lady Reds trailed 18-13 before a 7-1 run gave them their first lead 20-19. The set was tied at 21-21, but Carthage took the next three points to take a 24-21 lead, en route to a 25-22 decision to force a fifth-and-final set.

The Lady Reds took the lead, to stay, in the final set, 4-3.  Carthage led by three, 8-5.  Washington got as close as one, 8-7, before the Lady Reds took the next three points to go up, 11-8.  Carthage still led by three, 13-10, when the Bears took the next point to make it 13-11.  The Lady Reds won the last two points for a 15-11 win.

Cindy Cavanagh and Michelle Madejaled Carthage with 14 kills each, with Cavanagh hitting .312 (14-4-32) and collecting four block assists. Jordan Burkholder added eight kills. Lauren Budde topped the Bears with 18 kills and a .245 attack percentage, while Meghan Byrne had 16 kills.

Carthage is in its eighth NCAA appearance and seventh in a row. The Lady Reds qualified for the regional championship in 1990 and again from 2005 to 2010. 

After bowing out in the quarterfinals in both 2005 and 2006, the 2007, 2008 and 2009 squads reached the regional championship match. The 2007 team lost to Washington U. 3-1 at the Carthage Physical Education Center. The 2008 team fell to Wisconsin-Oshkosh 3-2 at the Kolf Sports Center in Oshkosh, Wis., and the 2009 squad lost to Washington U. 3-0 in St. Louis, Mo. The 2010 squad lost in the regional semifinals at Tarble Arena in Kenosha, Wis.