PITTSBURGH, PA — Tampa is the last team standing. Eight teams came to the A.J. Palumbo Center for the 2018 NCAA DII women's volleyball championship and after a thrilling three days of battle, the Tampa Spartans won in five sets to defeat Western Washington 3-2.
The storylines couldn't have been better. Tampa is DII fall festival stalwarts, winners at the 2006 and 2014 fall festival, and national runners-up in 2010. Western Washington dropped its first three games of the season and reeled off a nation-best 30-game win-streak into its second championship match since 2007.
Western Washington came out hot, winning the first set 25-21. But Tampa fired back in commanding fashion, winning Set 2 25-18. The Vikings took Set 3 25-21 and looked to have Tampa on the ropes in Set 4 before a key timeout by Tampa head coach Chris Catanach turned the momentum for good. Tampa overcame a seven-point deficit and took the final two sets.. Tampa was able to dig just a little deeper, winning 3-2.
Vikings senior teammates Brette Boesel and Abby Phelps, best friends since fifth grade, certainly left everything on the court. Phelps has a match-best 23 kills and 23 digs, while Boesel had a match-best 59 assists. Sammy Mueller ran Tampa's offense, picking up Most Outstanding Player honors as Sorrel Houghton caught fire in the fifth set, ending with a team-best 17 kills.
That's a wrap on the 2018 season. Tampa and Western Washington gave us everything we could ask for in the first title match not won in straight sets since 2012. The Tampa Spartans leave the DII fall festival with their third championship trophy, your 2018 national champions.
Be sure to scroll down for all the highlights on the road to the finals.