Thursday’s second quarterfinal match featured two top 10 teams that refused to lose. In the end West Texas A&M (36-7) survived with a 22-20 win in the fifth game and a 3-2 win (27-30, 30-24, 30-27, 26-30, 22-20) over Grand Valley State (33-4) at Washburn’s Lee Arena.
The eighth-ranked Lady Buffaloes, who came back from a 1-0 deficit after losing game one, will face Concordia-St. Paul Friday in a 4 p.m. Central semifinal.
West Texas A&M got to game point first in the fifth game, taking a 14-12 lead on a kill from Melissa Harper. GVSU’s Rebeccah Rapin got a kill and then Lauren Thedford’s kill tied the match at 14-14.
The Buffaloes forced game point four more times after that before the Lakers tied the match at 18-18 and then took the advantage at 19-18 on a WTAMU attack error.
After the Lady Buffaloes tied the match again Rapin gave the fifth-ranked Lakers another chance to clinch. Thedford answered with a kill, setting up a service ace from Sara Contreras on the side-out for WTAMU.
The Lady Buffaloes put the match away on a kill from Harper, her team-leading 19th of the match. She also led the team with a .405 attack percentage.
Laura Prinsen had 18 kills, Kelly Culley had 14, Natalie Johnson had 12 and Thedford had 10. She added 13 digs for a double-double.
Grand Valley State had three players reach 20-plus kills. Rapin had 24, Erica Vandekopple had 23 and Danielle Alexander had 22. Vandekopple hit .526 with three errors in 38 tries.
The Lakers out-hit WTAMU .302-.250 and won the dig battle 93-76. The Lady Buffaloes made up the difference by taking advantage of 16 GVSU service aces.
“It was just a great volleyball match, and believe it or not, I probably won’t lose much sleep over that because I think our kids did everything they could to win that match,” said Deanne Scanlon, GVSU’s 12-year head coach who won the championship in 2005.
Her team had a chance to take some momentum after winning game one 30-27.
“That’s usually our goal coming out, winning game one,” said GVSU’s Allyson Riley, who led her team with 28 digs. “And we came out strong.”
“It could have just kept going on and on and you knew it was going to be whoever got in system at the end on a rally was going to win it,” said Scanlon.
Asked if his team had enough for Friday’s match against No. 2 Concordia-St. Paul, WTAMU coach Tony Graystone answered, “I don’t know but we’re in the national semifinals. Now that they’re here, they act like they’re ready for it.”