By Matthew Osterhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
The remarkable season is over.
The West Texas A&M University Lady Buffs defeated the Flagler College Saints 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-18, 27-25) in the NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Championship semifinals.
Flagler entered the match with 29 straight wins, the second-longest active streak in Division II. The Saints loss left them one win short of the finals and a chance to play in the national championship match.
West Texas A&M played aggressive volleyball from the beginning and challenged Flagler. The Lady Buffs took the first set 25-17.
The Saints battled back in the second set, winning 25-22. The Saints offense was led by Meg Weathersby and freshman Rachel Stacy. The tandem picked up 11 of the team’s 17 kills in the set.
West Texas A&M took the momentum by winning the third set 25-18, despite committing 9 attack errors.
The Lady Buffs finished the match in the fourth set. Flagler held a 25-24 advantage, a point away from forcing a decisive fifth set, when West Texas A&M won three straight points to steal the match. Stacy had 9 kills for the Saints in the set.
The teams matched up well and had even statistics throughout but the Lady Buffs won the big points.
All-American outside hitter Laura Prinsen paced West Texas A&M. She racked up 19 kills, hit .432 and collected 18 digs. Equally impressive was Saints freshman Stacy. She pounded 21 kills and hit .410 in her best match of the season.
Not many people outside of St. Augustine knew about the Flagler volleyball program at the start of the season. The Saints were new members in the Peach Belt Conference, hoping to get their feet wet NCAA Division II conference play.
They made a big splash.
Led by three seniors, Justine Burkhardt, Katie Beale and Becky Hendrian, and one junior, Weatherby, the Saints proved they belonged in Division II and look to be a strong program in the future.
A loss so close to a national championship is undoubtedly frustrating, but the Saints can hold their heads high after a remarkable season.