WWU will play in its second NCAA Division II national championship match on Saturday. PHOTO: WWU Athletics

Vikings to Play for National Championship After 3-1 Semifinal Win

November 30, 2018 

PITTSBURGH, Penn. – For the second time in program history, the Western Washington University volleyball team will play for the NCAA Division II National Championship.

 

A dominating program through the years with seven consecutive NCAA II tournament appearances, the Vikings broke through with a national semifinal 3-1 victory over Lewis University on Friday at the A.J. Palumbo Center on the Duquesne University campus.

 

Making its second national tournament appearance (Elite 8) in the last four seasons, the No. 3 national seed Vikings will now play in the national title match on Saturday at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT against No. 1 seed and two-time national Champion University of Tampa, which was a 3-0 winner over Washburn.

 

WWU was led 15 kills on a .520 hitting percentage by junior middle Kayleigh Harper (Oak Harbor, WA) and a career-high 13 kills from sophomore outside hitter Alison Davenport (Auburn, WA/Auburn Mountainview). Davenport added 10 digs and contributed 2 blocks to finish with her second career double-double.

 

Senior middle Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) added 11 kills and 2 blocks and First Team All-American Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) recorded 9 kills and a match-high 27 digs. Senior libero Aubrey Stephens (Colville, WA) added 25 digs and junior defensive specialist Mae Thungc (Kent, WA/Kentridge) contributed 21 digs. Senior serving specialist Taylor Lyall (Bellingham, WA/Sehome) recorded four of WWU’s five service aces, and also had 5 digs.

MORE: Listen to our post-match interview with senior libero Aubrey Stephens

 

Senior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) quarterbacked the offense with 51 assists, distributing the ball to five players with 6-or-more kills. She added 7 digs, 2 blocks and one service ace.

 

After dropping the first set 25-22, the Vikings stormed back with convincing wins of 25-13, 25-17, 25-16 to advance to the national championship match. After hitting just .147 in a first-set loss, the Vikings rebounded to finish with a .247 hitting percentage in the match, which included hitting .344 in the second set and .341 in the fourth set. The Vikings recorded 99 digs in the four-set victory and out-blocked the Flyers 6.0-3.0 in the match.

 

Colleen Wilhelm led Lewis offensively with 14 kills and a .308 hitting percentage as the Flyers finished the match with a .258 team hitting percentage. Elizabeth Hyland finished with a double-double of 10 kills and 14 digs and Caroline Stefanon added 10 kills. Abby Becker contributed a double-double of 41 assists and 23 digs. Lewis finished its season with a 29-8 record, advancing to the national semifinal after winning the Midwest Regional title.

 

SET 1 (LEWIS 25, WWU 21): Lewis took the opening set 25-21, pulling away from the eighth tie of the set at 16-16 with a 4-0 run. The Vikings closed the gap to two points at 22-20, but the Flyers won three of the last four points to go up 1-0 in the match. Harper had 4 kills on a .429 hitting percentage, but the Vikings collectively were limited to a .140 hitting percentage in the set.

 

SET 2 (WWU 25, LEWIS 13): The Vikings came back strong in the second set with a 25-13 victory to tie things up 1-1. WWU used a 9-0 run to build a 8-point lead at 11-3 early in the set. Lewis countered with a 5-1 run to pull to within four points at 12-8, but the Vikings remained strong down the stretch pulling away late with a 5-1 run to rebuild their lead to 10 points at 21-11. The middle combination of Hall and Harper each recorded 4 kills, as the Vikings hit .344 as a team in the set. 

 

SET 3 (WWU 25, LEWIS 17): Western again used an early run to pull away, winning seven consecutive points to break a 6-6 tie. The 7-0 run proved to be too much for Lewis to overcome as the Vikings went up 2-1 in the match with the 25-17 set victory. Lewis got as close as 17-14 using a 4-1 mid-set run to cut the lead to three points, but the Vikings responded with a 8-3 run to close out the set. Davenport recorded 5 kills in the set, with Phelps adding 4 kills.

 

SET 4 (WWU 25, LEWIS 16): Another 5-0 allowed the Vikings to open up a 6-2 fourth-set lead. The Flyers came back to within two, 7-5, on Colleen Wilhelm’s kill, but would come no closer as WWU remained steady and consistent. A kill by Davenport made it a 17-11 lead and eventually built a 9-point advantage, 23-14, on Harper’s final kill of the day.

 

UP NEXT

The Vikings will play for the NCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship on Saturday at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT against the University of Tampa (32-4)…the match will stream live via the Division II Volleyball homepage at NCAA.com.

 

THE NATIONAL TITLE MATCH

WWU will be playing in its second national championship match and first since 2007…WWU was defeated by Concordia-St. Paul 3-1 (26-30, 23-30, 30-19, 29-31) in Topeka, Kansas on the Washburn University campus…you can view all the NCAA Division II national champions and national runner-up via this link at NCAA.com.

 

WATCH PARTY IN BELLINGHAM

WWU Athletics will be hosting a Watch Party for the NCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship game. Join with other Viking fans tomorrow, Saturday December 1 at noon the Mountain Room at Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro to cheer WWU on as they compete for the national championship.  Please email Director of Marketing and Special Events, Nicole Ebersole, if you plan on attending at nicole.ebersole@wwu.edu.

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