LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tampa cruised into the Division II Women’s Volleyball Championship match with a four-set win against Arkansas-Fort Smith in the second of Friday’s two semifinals at Knights Hall on the campus of Bellarmine. The Spartans won by scores of 25-9, 25-17, 21-25, 25-17.
The top-ranked Spartans will face Southwest Minnesota State, which swept Grand Valley State.
Tampa won the championship in 2006. They were the last team to win the national title before Concordia-St. Paul won seven consecutive championships. Southwest Minnesota State took down Concordia-St. Paul in the second round of this year's tournament.
The Spartans took the first two sets of Firday's match in dominant fashion, but Arkansas-Fort Smith fought back to win the third.
“They were digging everything we were throwing at them, so we were getting maybe a little frustrated,” said Tampa senior setter Kahley Patrick, who compiled 58 assists during the match. “But we did well to stay together and not panic after we lost the third set. Their defense made us play at a higher level, which will benefit us [in the final].”
AVCA Player of the Year Berkley Whaley led the Spartans with 18 kills in 38 attempts. Marissa Lisenbee added 13 kills, including match point, and Jessica Wagner contributed 11.
Arkansas-Fort Smith, which was making its first semifinal appearance, got 13 kills from Jessica Anderson and 10 from Katarina Krstonosic.
Lions coach Jane Sargent called Tampa’s offense the fastest her team had seen all year. “But I loved how we battled,” she said.