CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Dec. 13, 2013) – In an up and down five-set saga, the BYU-Hawaii women's volleyball team took down West Texas A&M 3-2 (25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 21-25, 15-11) on Friday to advance to the championship match of the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championships.
The Seasiders (29-1) won the first two sets handily and then struggled in sets three and four. It all came down to a fifth set for a chance to play for the national title.
Down 3-2 in the final set, West Texas A&M (35-4) ran out to a 6-2 lead. The four-point lead stuck at 8-4 but was erased when the Seasiders tied things up 8-8. The Lady Buffs went back up by two before BYU-Hawaii came back again to take a 12-11 lead.
Another kill from Shih Ting (Stella) Chen made it 13-11 to give the Seasiders some cushion to work with. A bad set from the Lady Buffs and one final kill from Stella Chen pushed BYU-Hawaii into the national championship match with a 15-11 set win and 3-2 victory for the match.
The championship match will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. CT/3 p.m. HT from the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. BYU-Hawaii will face powerhouse Concordia-St. Paul, winners of the last six national championships. WATCH LIVE HERE.
The Seasiders hit .295 for the match and Stella Chen posted 21 kills and 18 digs. It was more than just Stella as BYU-Hawaii spread the kills around to Erh Fang (Ariel) Hsu who added 17 kills and one solo block while Lacy Miyahira added 13 kills and two aces. Erica Willes and Noel Pauga both added eight kills apiece. Ying Chun (Michelle) Chen posted 58 assists and two aces.
The Seasider winning streak extends to 22 in a row.
BYU-Hawaii took an early 4-2 lead and kept up the pressure with a 5-0 run to take a 12-7 lead midway through the first set. The Lady Buffs came right back to cut the lead to 13-12 but BYU-Hawaii answered with another run to make it 19-12. The Seasiders led by as many as seven points before West Texas cut it back to 22-19. Willes got two kills and Hsu added the dagger to win the first set 25-20. Willes and Hsu both had three kills apiece in the set.
Both teams went back and forth to open the second set. Each team traded leads until BYU-Hawaii got back-to-back scores for a 9-7 lead. The Lady Buffs stormed back and took a 12-10 advantage. A spurt of five consecutive points put the Seasiders back on top 15-12. Three straight errors let West Texas A&M come back in to tie it up a 19-19. A sneaky floater dropped in from Stella Chen, Pauga added one more and an ace from Michelle Chen gave them a 24-21 edge. A Lady Buff into the net gave BYU-Hawaii the 25-22 win to take a 2-0 match lead.
The third set started slow for the Seasiders, surrendering a 5-1 edge to West Texas A&M. The Lady Buffs continued their charge, running out to a 12-4 lead. A once nine-point deficit was trimmed to three but still BYU-Hawaii trailed 17-14. The Seasiders couldn't get closer than three, losing set No. 3 25-19.
BYU-Hawaii got behind early in the fourth set again and trailed 10-4. The Seasiders got within two points at 16-14. The Lady Buffs were too much down the stretch and evened the match up 2-2 with a 25-21 win in set No. 4, setting up the thrills of fifth set en route to the BYU-Hawaii victory.
The title match begins Saturday at 7 p.m. CT/3 p.m. HT from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. BYU-Hawaii will show the live broadcast on campus in the Aloha Center Ballroom.