Tommie Volleyball hasn't enjoyed a lot of breathing room over the last several weeks, despite winning a lot of recent matches. But the team's grit and poise are paying off.
On Wednesday, the Purple reached 26 wins and claimed a solo MIAC championship.
Freshman Selena Levendoski had 18 kills and hit .417 to lead No. 22-ranked St. Thomas to a 3-0 victory over second-place and No. 11-ranked St. Ben's. The Toms rallied to win the second and third sets in a 25-21, 26-24, 32-30 victory at Schoenecker Arena.
Typical of the team's balance all season, St. Thomas' last seven points of the 32-30 closeout set included five kills from five different players. In the Toms' last 18 matches (66 sets), 22 sets were decided by two points and five had a three-point winning margin.
St. Thomas (26-4 overall, 10-0 MIAC) closes the regular season Saturday at second-place Augsburg (3 p.m.), then has a bye next Tuesday night and advances into next Thursday night's semifinals of the MIAC playoffs.
Coach Thanh Pham's Tommies have won 15 of their last 16 matches. Picked for third in the conference preseason poll, St. Thomas won its second championship in three years and the program's 12th in the last 18 seasons. They made the playoff field for the 19th time in 20 seasons.
It was St. Thomas' second victory this season over a top-15 ranked foe, and it hit .212 in running its season home record to 7-0.
Grace Anetipa finished with 55 assists; Ellie Meyer chipped in 26 digs; freshman Kate Achenbach had 14 kills and hit .440; Madie Kroehler recorded 18 digs and seven kills; Hannah Braun had nine kills and three blocks; and Meghan Mazzola added 15 digs.
Seniors Kroehler and Meyer have been aboard all four seasons and have helped the Tommies post a 98-29 record so far in their era.