Tommie volleyball outlast St. Scholastica, advance to NCAA regional final

St. Thomas women’s volleyball team defeated St. Scholastica 3-2 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Tommies have now beaten the Saints three times this season.

St. Thomas took control of the first set early with solid serves from sophomore outside hitter Kari Ann Nass. Nass completed her five serve run with two aces. Three decisive kills from senior middle blocker Taylor Cross and junior defensive specialist Kaitlain Wachter won the first set 25-15 for the Tommies.

After falling to the Saints 18-25 in the second set, the Tommies were able to push the third set to a season-high score of 35-37, but the Saints went on to win.

Pham said although his players dropped this high-scoring set, he was proud of their composure.

“I was just happy with how composed the team was,” Pham said. “We fought back from a 21-14 deficit to push it to extra points.”

“I think that we grew a lot in that game,” senior Ashley Maher said.

After dropping two sets in a row, St. Thomas took the court re-energized in the fourth set registering 10 kills in the first 14 points. Two attack errors from the Saints in the last two points of the fourth set helped the Tommies claim a 25-19 victory, forcing a fifth and final set.

Pham said that the win a result of correcting second and third set passing issues.

“We just needed to focus on passing the ball well and then having options for our setter to set all three hitters,” Pham said. “After we did that, the match became a little bit more controllable for us.”

Freshman outside hitter Jill Greenfield had five kills late in the fifth set to help the Tommies clinch the victory.

“It was exciting to see our young team pull out a big win. They showed a lot of composure,” Pham said. “They showed that they were ready to fight, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Maher said she was proud of her team for coming back to win the last two sets after dropping the third.

“St. Scholastica is a really good team, and they pushed us,” Maher said.

St. Thomas advances to play the winner of Concordia-Moorhead versus Bethel at 4 p.m. Sunday in the NCAA regional finals.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our conference as a whole. To have three teams in the semifinals of a regional tournament says a lot about how tough our conference is,” Pham said.

Briggs LeSavage can be reached at