CRETE, Neb. – University of St. Francis won the first two sets, lost the next two, then rallied to take the final set 15-11 as it upset No. 16 Doane College in NAIA Volleyball Championship Opening Round play Saturday night. | Box Score
The 25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11 win sends St. Francis (37-6) to the NAIA national finals to be held in Sioux City, Iowa, Nov. 27-Dec.1.
Sophomore Caleigh Hill (Shorewood, Ill./ Minooka) sparked the Saints' attack, hitting 12 kills with a .455 percentage while registering seven total blocks (four solos, three assists).
Freshman Megan Mowery (Great Lakes, Ill./ Carmel Catholic) led USF with 15 kills, while juniors Laura Wills (Morris, Ill./ Morris) and Kate McIlvanie (Eleroy, Ill./ Lena-Winslow) clubbed 11 and 10, respectively.
St. Francis overcame a 6-2 deficit in the opening set and a 17-11 gap in the second to win each set 25-21.
Doane (28-9) then captured the third set 25-18 before outlasting the Saints 25-23 in set four. No team led by more than three points throughout the fourth set.
In the deciding set, the Saints jumped out to a 3-0 advantage before the Tigers regained the lead 5-4. Doane led for the last time 9-8.
A pair of Wills' kills brought the Saints to match point, 14-10, before McIlvanie ended the contest with her 10th kill of the night.
Senior setter Ashley Richards (Wilmington, Ill./ Wilmington) collected 47 assists and 12 digs while recording five kills in eight attempts without an error.
Senior libero Dana Wettergren (Oak Forest, Ill./ Oak Forest) was credited with 18 digs.
Susan Rollman led Doane with a match-high 23 kills while Emily Max added 15.
St. Francis extended its winning streak to 10 matches overall and 24 against NAIA opponents.