Lady Buffs rally in nail biter to punch ticket to NCAA Division II Elite Eight

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The West Texas A&M volleyball team claimed the NCAA Division II South Central Regional championship on Saturday night in Denver, Colo. [Provided photo]

West Texas A&M never backed down despite seeing its season in serious jeopardy, rallying back from an 0-2 deficit to stun top-seed and No. 3-ranked MSU Denver in five sets to claim the NCAA Division II South Central Regional championship in Denver, Colo., late Saturday night.

It’s the Lady Buffs first regional championship since 2013, as WT advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Tampa, Fla.

It’s also the 14th regional title in program history for the Lady Buffs.

This is a victory WT head coach Kendra Potts, a former Lady Buff volleyball great and 2014 Hall of Champion inductee, says she’ll never forget.

“I’m so proud of this team,” WT coach Kendra Potts said. “Playing here at WT, and now coaching here, this means everything to me. I have an amazing coaching staff, and we just want to continue to pay it forward. This team has really come together over the past few weeks, and it’s an exciting time to be a Lady Buff.”

WT (26-4 overall) was tabbed as the No. 7-seed in the region despite winning the Lone Star Conference Tournament championship. In Thursday’s regional quarterfinal, the Lady Buffs took down No. 2-seed Colorado School of Mines in a five-set thriller, 20-25, 26-24, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13. On Friday, WT downed LSC rival, UT Tyler in four sets, then rallied back down 0-2, to win the final three sets from host school MSU Denver (28-4) on Saturday, 18-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 15-8.

“We knew before Lone Star Conference Tournament we had to make an impact to even make the regional,” Potts said. “The NCAA Division II committee didn’t feel we had a significant win on our schedule. So we knew from the LSC Tournament going forward we’d have to play with a chip on our shoulder. Our team was coachable, strategic, and stepped up. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Outside hitter, Torrey Miller had a career-dominating performance for WT. The sophomore became the eighth Lady Buff in program history to post 33 kills in a single match, hitting a career-high .529 percent on 51 attempts with just six attack errors along with nine assists and 17 digs for her 15th double-double of the season.

Freshman Blair Moreland paced the region champions with 31 assists while Hereford graduate Chandler Vogel led the back row with 17 digs followed by Moreland with 15 for her fourth collegiate double-double.

Miller, Vogel, Moreland, and Kayla Elliott earned All-Tournament honors for WT.

The NCAA Division II Elite Eight Tournament is set for Dec. 9-11, at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center on the campus of the University of Tampa.

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