Tommies, Royals advance to Volleyball Playoff semifinals

Tommies, Royals advance to Volleyball Playoff semifinals

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The 2016 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Volleyball Playoffs opened with Tuesday's quarterfinal matches. One of the home favorites held serve in impressive fashion, while one of the road teams pulled off the upset away from home as the semifinal stage was set.

| 2016 MIAC Volleyball Playoffs |

No. 3 St. Thomas (22-7) turned in a complete performance – particularly in the second and third sets – in a 3-0 quarterfinal sweep of No. 6 Concordia (9-18) Tuesday in St. Paul, Minn. No. 5 Bethel (17-9) traveled to Winona, Minn., to face No. 4 Saint Mary's (24-5), and the Royals rolled to a 2-0 lead and then dominated the fourth set to complete their 3-1 quarterfinal upset win. The Tommies and Bethel join top-seeded Augsburg (18-9) and No. 2 Gustavus (21-7) in Thursday's quarterfinals, with bids to the MIAC Playoff championship match on the line.

| Box Score |
No. 6 Concordia used an impressive final-day win and prevailed in a four-way tie for sixth to grab the final MIAC Playoff bid, but the Cobbers luck ran out in the postaseason opener at the hands of a red-hot St. Thomas team. The third-seeded Tommies took care of business at home to advance to the semifinals with a 3-0 win. After a close first set, won 25-22 by UST, the Tommies rolled to 25-13 and 25-14 wins to finish out the sweep, hitting .370 and .486 in the final two sets, respectively.

UST used a balanced attack in the win, with Katharine Mallak directing the show with 30 assists. Audrey Erickson had a 10-kill, 13-dig double-double while hitting .429 and Brooke Reichart joined her in double figures with 10 kills, no errors and a .422 hitting percentage. Ellie Meyer finished with 17 digs and Whitney Lloyd added eight kills in the win. UST hit .380 as a team, with 38 assists on 41 kills and just six attack errors.

The Cobbers had some standout performances in the loss, led by Jenna Klaphake's 36 assists and nine digs. She assisted on all but one of the team's 37 kills. Brianna Carney led the hitters with 13 kills, Mandy Mercil had 12 digs, Stephanie Baker had 10 digs and Emma Chandler finished with eight kills. Concordia managed just a .110 hitting percentage as a team with 37 kills, 37 assists and 24 errors.

NO. 5 BETHEL 3, NO. 4 SAINT MARY'S 1 | Box Score |
A year after advancing to the MIAC Playoff championship match and the NCAA Elite Eight, the No. 5-seeded Royals showed off their collective postseason experience Tuesday, edging fourth-seeded Saint Mary's 3-1 in an impressive performance. Bethel took a commanding 2-0 lead with a 25-18 win in the first set and a 25-19 win in the second. Saint Mary's made things interesting with a 25-16 win in the third, but Bethel responded with a convincing 25-10 victory in the fourth set – hitting .419 as a team in the set – to finalize the road upset.

The Royals had plenty of players contribute to the quarterfinal win. Callie Sinclair hit a remarkable .486 with 22 kills, seven digs, and a pair of blocks. Carlee Hoppe had a 12-kills, 15-dig double-double, Tina Hoppe had 10 kills and five blocks, Holly Ellwanger handed out 31 assists to go along with six digs, and Karin Canakes wreaked havoc at the net with nine total blocks. Bethel hit .283 as a team and had 46 assists on 55 kills, with just 16 attack erros in the win.

Saint Mary's had a pair of players record double-digit kills in the loss, as Lexi Barth finished with 12 kills, five digs and three blocks, and Brandi Blattner had 10 kills and six digs. Brittney Hanson turned in a 23-assist, 12-dig double-double and led the team in both categories, and Lillian Braun had 17 assists and nine digs. Saint Mary's hit just .146 as a team with 47 kills and 27 errors.

The tournament will continue Thursday with the two semifinal matches. Champion Augsburg will host Bethel in Minneapolis, and second-seeded Gustavus will host St. Thomas in St. Peter, Minn. Both semifinal matches will also begin Thursday at 7 p.m.

The semifinal winners will advance to the championship match, which will be played Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. on the home court of the top remaining seed. The MIAC Playoffs champion will receive the postseason championship plaque and the conference's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament. Gustavus is the defending MIAC Playoff champion.

The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2016 MIAC Volleyball Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the six teams in the field. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard or on the free MIAC mobile app. Connect throughout the Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's FacebookInstagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACVB.


Quarterfinals | Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 | 7 p.m. |
No. 3 St. Thomas def. No. 6 Concordia, 3-0 | Box Score | 
No. 5 Bethel def. No. 4 Saint Mary's, 3-1 | Box Score |

Semifinals | Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 | 7 p.m. |
No. 5 Bethel at No. 1 Augsburg | Minneapolis, Minn. |
No. 3 St. Thomas at No. 2 Gustavus | St. Peter, Minn. | 

Championship | Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 | 7 p.m. |
Semifinal winners at highest remaining seed | Location: TBA |

| 2016 MIAC Volleyball Playoffs