IRVING, TEXAS The Colorado College volleyball team won its second consecutive Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship with a nerve-racking 24-26, 25-22, 27-25, 24-26, 15-8 victory over Southwestern University on Sunday afternoon.
The fourth-ranked Tigers improved to 31-2 and earned the program’s 21st consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball championship as the SCAC’s automatic qualifier.
CC will learn its destination and first-round opponent when the 2018 bracket is unveiled during the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at 10:30 a.m. MT on www.NCAA.com.
Junior middle hitter Marguerite Spaethling, who was named MVP of the conference championship, posted a match-high .333 hitting percentage with 14 kills on 33 attacks with only three errors.
Senior middle hitter Myca Steffey-Bean, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team, led Colorado College with 15 kills.
Also named to the all-tournament team was junior setter Lizzy Counts, who dished out 40 assists and eclipsed 1,000 for the second consecutive season. She also recorded a season-high 20 digs.
Junior outside hitter Haley Harris added 10 kills and completed her 13th double-double of the season with 19 digs.
Freshman outside hitter Isabella Vasquez added 10 kills and nine digs in the first postseason match of her career.
“We have so much depth,” head coach Rick Swan said. “If something is not working, we can mix it up and throw somebody else in there. Isabella Vasquez came through big time on the outside.”
Junior libero Anna Gurolnick led the Tigers with 25 digs, posting 20 or more in a match for the fifth time this season.
Spaethling and Steffey-Bean combined for nine total blocks as CC held the Pirates to a .093 attack percentage, the 21st time an opponent hit less than .100 against the Tigers.
“You work all season long for wins like this,” Steffey-Bean said. “We know this isn’t it for us. We’re getting ready to head to the NCAA Tournament which is kind of like the icing on the cake.”
Trailing two sets to one, Southwestern erased 19-13 deficit to steal the fourth set and extend the match.
Colorado College scored the first four points of the fifth set and led 8-3 when the teams switched sides.
The Pirates pulled to within 10-8 on a kill by Ashley Whitlock, but CC claimed the next two points on a kill by Steffey-Bean and an SU error.
After a Southwestern timeout, Steffey-Bean and sophomore opposite hitter Laney Swan stuffed senior outside hitter Jamison Duck, and then the Tigers closed out the program’s fifth SCAC championship with kills from Swan and Steffey-Bean.
With the match on the line, Colorado College hit an error-free .375 in the fifth set with nine kills on 24 swings.
“I said stay aggressive and keep swinging,” Swan said. “When it’s there, put it away. They did fantastic and came through in the clutch when they needed to.”
Each team came from behind to claim one of the first two sets. The Pirates trailed 12-6 early in the first, while CC was down 18-16 before closing out the second with a 9-5 surge.
Set No. 3 was a back-and-forth affair with 12 ties and eight lead changes. Southwestern led 25-24 after a kill by Lauren Crabtree, but a service error leveled the score and then the Tigers utilized kills by Spaethling and Isabelle Aragon-Menzel to take a one-set lead.
Junior right-side hitter Haven Cathey led the Pirates with 14 kills and five total blocks.
Duck recorded 12 kills and 26 digs, while senior libero Brandi Campos finished with a match-high 28 digs.