Volleyball Reaches No. 5 After Laboring Weekend

The No. 5 University of Tampa volleyball team (6-1) turned in a strong performance at the Colorado Premier Classic in Denver, taking third place.

The Spartans shined on day one of the tournament, defeating both Northwest Nazarene and No. 25 Augustana of South Dakota in straight sets.

UT took the first match by scores of 25-20, 25-11 and 25-21. Melissa Vanderhall and Jessica Yingling recorded double-doubles, as Vanderhall had 13 kills and 10 digs. Yingling added 16 kills and 10 digs of her own. Defensively, sophomore Julie Howlett led the team with 13 of the team’s 60 digs while the team amassed nine blocks.

The Spartans seamlessly transitioned to No. 25 Augustana, never trailing and, winning the sets 25-20, 25-20, and 25-15. Vanderhall and Yingling again posted double digits with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

Defensively, UT recorded 12 blocks compared to three by the Vikings. Eight Spartans had at least one dig, recording a total of 32 for the match. Vanderhall led the team with eight digs.

The victories propelled the team to a 5-0 record on the season.

Then came day two, where the Spartans faced the daunting task of battling No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul.

UT fell behind early, losing the first two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-17.

While the Spartans rebounded to win the third set 25-21, a fourth set loss by the same margin sealed the match, handing UT its first loss of the season. Vanderhall led UT with 15 kills, but Concordia’s Emily Palkert had 18 kills while four Golden Bears reached double digits.

Following the defeat, UT took on regional rival No. 15, West Florida, in the third place game.

The Spartans swept the match by scores of 25-23, 25-18 and 25-19.

Yingling earned a team high of nine kills while sophomore Camille Hanks had two solo blocks in addition to three assisted blocks. Vanderhall and junior Kaleigh Cunningham each racked up 11 digs in the match.

The Spartans finished the tournament with a 2-1 record, improving to 6-1 on the season and are now ranked No. 5 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, up from their previous No. 9 ranking.

The team travels to Pensacola on Sept. 12 for the South Region Crossover in West Florida.

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