The Roadrunner volleyball team advanced to the South-Central regional finals of the NCAA Division II tournament with a four set victory over Tarleton State.
The Runners, who went undefeated in conference play but lost the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game, will play in the regional finals for the first time since 2009. They are one of 16 remaining teams vying for the NCAA Division II National Championship. The Runners will face the winner of the other South-Central regional semifinal match between the first-seeded Angelo State Rams or the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers, the same school the defeated the Runners in the RMAC championship.
The Runners made a lot of mistakes in the first set. The Tarleton State Texans won it 25-20, taking advantage of the eight errors and a horrendous .111 hitting percentage of the Runners. The Texans finished the set with eight kills while the Runners had 12.
MSU Denver ran away with the second set. After jumping out to an early 13-7 lead and forcing the Texans into a timeout, they withstood a late rally and ended up taking the set 25-22. Sophomore outside hitter Santaisha Sturges led the team in kills at the end of two sets with 13.
The Runners then carried their momentum from the second set into the third. They doubled the Texans score midway through the set 16-8 and cruised to a 25-17 set victory. 2016 RMAC Player of the Year Brandi Torr led the team in assists after the third set with 36.
The Texans put up quite a fight in the fourth round, but a furious rally by the Runners ended with a 25-22 victory that gave them a 3-1 match win.
Senior outside hitter Michaela Smith usurped the kill-lead from Sturges and finished with 16. Sturges had 15. Torr finished the game with 49 assists.
The Runners will play one either the Rams or the Orediggers on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Those wishing to watch can tune in by using the MSU Denver athletics website.