HOLLAND, Mich. -- Inside the DeVos Fieldhouse at Hope the second semifinal of the 2013 NCAA Division III tournament it was a battle of schools donning violet between Cal Lutheran and Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The Regals will get to suit up again Saturday and play for a national title after defeating the Pointers in three sets (26-24, 25-19, 25-16) to become one of just two teams remaining in the country.
Cal Lutheran earned a trip to the title match of the NCAA Division III tournament, marking the second final in school history, joining the 1995 squad that was national runner-up.The Regals are focused on earning CLU its first NCAA Division III championship in school history. The 1971 football team was NAIA national champions and the women’s water polo teams earned Collegiate III crowns in both 2007 and 2010.
The Regals were aggressive and got into a groove early, playing the volleyball they know how from the start, without pressing when things got close. The Violet and Gold combined for a .231 hitting percentage and was consistent in each game with 19, 14 and 17 kills per set, respectively.
For the second night in a row Kylie McLogan led all players offensively, putting down 19 kills while freshman Nicki Tetherow had a career-best and match-leading 24 digs to pace the defensive unit. Lauren Rohach hit .500 tonight from the floor with eight kills on 16 swings without an error. Allie Eason finished with10 and Hayley Tamagni tallied seven for the Violet and Gold as well. Assisting on those kills was Jackie Russell who handed out a match-high 47 assists, adding a pair of service aces, also the most of any player. CLU combined for 5 total blocks as Tamagni teamed up for three block assists as three other players finishing with a pair apiece. Pua Mo’okini-Oliveira and McLogan were two of those Regals, notching 15 and 10 digs, respectively, with Rohach recording the other two.
Though the first game was tight both at the beginning and end, CLU controlled the pace of play and opened a five-point gap at 16-11. To get there the Regals reeled off three consecutive points on kills from McLogan, but Wisconsin-Stevens Point responded with a 5-0 run of its own behind four kills including two from Emma Brunkhorst. The teeter-tottering continued throughout the remainder, but at 24-24 Cal Lutheran used back-to-back kills from Easonand McLogan to close out the first 26-24 and take an early lead.
In the second set, McLogan opened with a kill and Russell followed with an ace before a UWSP attacking error put the Regals ahead 3-0. The Pointers knotted things at 7-7, but the evenness of the set did not last long as McLogan spearheaded a 5-0 stretch that included a trio of kills from the senior outside hitter. Wisconsin-Stevens Point pulled back within a pair ad 15-13, but Eason used two kills and a block with Rohach to help CLU regain the five-point gap at 19-14. UWSP did not go away quietly, making the Regals work, but the composure was there as Russell found the floor for her second ace of the night and Tamagni put down the final point in a 25-20 win for a 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point stole the start of the third, leading for the first time of the night. Tied at 6-6 the Regals once again jumped on the back of McLogan as she broke the tie with consecutive kills on sets from Russell before Mo’okini-Oliveira stepped in with a pair of her own kills to help CLU to a 10-6 advantage. Rohach also had a very productive stretch during the set with three kills in a four-point span to provide a 17-9 advantage. With the defense shining, CLU held UWSP to a .089 hitting percentage in the final game. McLogan opened the gap to 10 points at 21-11 and the Regals seemingly cruised to the finish line on another set-clinching kill from Tamagni, which sent the bench into a frenzy as the Regals advanced to the national title game.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (35-5) was led by Brunkhorst with a dozen kills by way of 31 assists from Alexis Hartman. A trio of players was in double figures for digs for the Pointers with Hannah Picel leading the way with 16.