Wisconsin-Stevens Point advances to first round of 16 in program history
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Wisconsin-Stevens Point, ranked 19th nationally, advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history by defeating No. 6 Saint Benedict in four sets in the regional semifinal on Friday afternoon at Schoenecker Arena.
Three UWSP players were in double figures in kills, led by Krista Loos with 15. Emma Brunkhorst and Allison Davis had 14 and 13, respectively. Alexis Hartman had 47 assists and eclipsed the single-season record in the category in the process. Hannah Picel had 39 digs, while Hartman, Marie Krengel and Sarah Wildish all chipped in with 13.
Coming off a thrilling five-set win against Wartburg in the opening round, the Pointers (33-4) raced out to a 6-1 lead in the first set against the Blazers (27-4). Saint Benedict eventually climbed to within three at 21-18 but Brunkhorst had two kills to help UW-Stevens Point close out the first set 25-20.
Looking to level the match, the Blazers established an 11-8 lead in the second but the Pointers used a string of five points in a row to retake the lead. After UWSP led by as many as three, the teams found themselves locked at 23-23. Saint Benedict then came out of a timeout with kills from Lexi Alm and Sophie Stangl to even the match at a set each. The teams were tied on 14 occasions in the second set alone and 28 times in the match.
Early in the third, Loos had three kills in a stretch of five points to give UW-Stevens Point a 12-7 edge. UWSP led 17-9 at one point but Saint Benedict fought back to again force a 23-23 tie. This time, however, the Pointers closed the set with two consecutive points, including a block by Brunkhorst and Loos to give UWSP a 2-1 lead.
Needing one more set to book its place in the round of 16, UW-Stevens Point surged to a 4-0 lead with four consecutive kills to open the fourth set. Similar to the third set, the Pointers were in command before a late run got CSB within two at 20-18 but the Blazers could not get any closer. Davis sealed the win with a kill on the final point off a set from Hartman.
In the other regional semifinal, No. 4 St. Thomas (Minn.) defeated No. 13 Augsburg 25-23, 18-25, 25-7, 25-14. Like Saint Benedict, St. Thomas topped UW-Stevens Point in three sets early this season. The Tommies and Pointers meet in the regional final at on Saturday night.