After an impressive 21-game winning streak, the Roadrunner women’s volleyball team suffered a hard fought loss in their final game before the NCAA tournament.
MSU Denver finished second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament as they head into the NCAA tournament. In the first game of the tournament, the Runners faced the Colorado State University-Pueblo Thunderwolves. They had already beaten the Thunderwolves twice in the regular season. The Runners asserted their dominance from the start and didn’t hold back, winning the matchup 3 sets to 0. Although each of the three sets were back-and-forth battles, the Runners were able to control the match throughout. Senior Michaela Smith finished with team highs in kills and digs, with 16 and 17 respectively.
In the RMAC semifinal matchup, the Runners had to battle back to defeat the Regis University Rangers. In the first set, the Runners had a stronger hitting percentage of .317 compared to the Rangers’ .293, but would lose the set 25-23. The Runners were then able to close out the second set with the win, 25-22. The Runners lost the third set 25-22. Finding themselves down 2-1 in the match, the Runners flipped the switch and grinded out two wins in the final two sets, coming out with the 3-2 win on the brink of elimination. Sophomore Santaisha Sturges finished the night with a team leading 20 kills and 10 digs.
The Colorado School of Mines Orediggers snapped the Runners’ winning streak with their 3-1 victory. The Orediggers built momentum early and kept their foot on the gas, winning both the first and second set 25-18.
The Runners battled back to take the third set 25-19, but found themselves struggling to score in the last set, losing by a score of 25-14. Smith, Hoerdemann and Sturges again led in kills, finishing with 15, 14 and 11 respectively.
Despite losing the RMAC championship, the Runners still received a bid for the 2016 NCAA Division II volleyball tournament – their 17th straight. The Runners received the second seed in the South Central region, and will face the number seven seed and fellow RMAC school the Colorado Mesa Mavericks.
Angelo State received the first overall seed, and will host the tournament in San Angelo, Texas. The Runners have beaten the Mavericks twice this year in regular season action, 3-1 and 3-0 respectively, so the matchup shouldn’t provide anything the Runners haven’t seen before. The two are set to meet Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. in San Angelo, Texas.