Vikings Sweep Their Way Into Division II Volleyball Semifinals
Abby Phelps (No. 5) led the Vikings with 13 kills and 11 digs, her 27th double-double of the season. Photo by Bri Nellis.
Abby Phelps (No. 5) led the Vikings with 13 kills and 11 digs, her 27th double-double of the season. Photo by Bri Nellis.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Western Washington has never been a team to get bent out of shape when coming from behind and they weren’t going to be rattled on Thursday.

The No. 3 Vikings came from behind in each set to score a three-set sweep over No. 6 seed Tarleton State, 25-21, 25-22, 25-23, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Volleyball Championship at the A.J. Palumbo Center on the Duquesne University campus.

The Vikings (29-3) trailed through the first half of each set and fought from behind to complete the sweep of the Texanns. With the win, Western Washington advances to face No. 7 seed Lewis in the semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern. The Flyers swept No. 2 seed and defending national champion Wheeling Jesuit in the first match of the afternoon. It is the Vikings’ third trip to the national semifinals in its third appearance in the tournament’s final eight.

Western Washington hit .303 to secure its 29th consecutive victory of the season. Senior outside hitter Abby Phelps led the way with her 27th double-double of the season, finishing with 13 kills and 11 digs. Junior middle blocker Kayleigh Harper added 11 kills with a .526 hitting percentage, making just one error on 19 attempts. Senior setter Brette Boesel added 37 assists while junior defensive specialist Mae Thungc had 13 digs.

Tarleton State (32-5) finished hitting .233 for the match, led by Amber Strange’s 15 kills and .324 hitting percentage. Tatyana Tuialii-Umi finished with 10 kills. Adriana Darthuy added 22 digs while Blanca Izquierdo had 24 assists in the Texanns’ two-setter system.

Every set was close and from the outset of each it appeared that the Texanns had the advantage. Tarleton State led by three points early before the Vikings tied it on a block by Boesel and Michaela Hall and took a 13-12 lead on Phelps’ kill. After a long stretch of the teams trading points, the Vikings pulled out 23-19 lead on back-to-back Phelps kills and closed the set out on a Hall putaway.

The Texanns again jumped out to a three-point lead to open the second set, going up 10-7 on Darthuy’s kill. The Vikings were patient, tying the frame at 12-12 on a Tarleton error and took their first lead at 17-16 on a Harper kill. Western Washington won eight of the final 14 rallies of the set, going up 21-18 on a service error before Harper used a kill to make the three-point advantage the difference in the win.

Tarleton State appeared to have the momentum to take the third set from wire to wire, leading by as much as four points early on. After trying the frame at 13-13, the Vikings did not take their first lead until Phelps’ service ace made it 16-15. The Texanns kept control, however, leading 20-18 before WWU won five straight points to take the lead for good. A Texanns’ service errors provided for the 23-20 lead and an attack error closed out the match.