VERMILLION, S.D. – For the third season in a row, the No. 2 Omaha Mavericks have claimed a spot in the Summit League Tournament Finals after holding off the No. 3 Denver Pioneers to win 3-2 in the semifinals round on Monday night.
Set by Set: (25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 15-25, 16-14)
- With the Mavericks starting the day in a 16-8 hole, Rachel Fairbanks kicked off a 4-0 scoring run to cut the lead in half. She and McKenna Ruch would make it a one-point game at 17-16 with a block and a pair of kills. Shayla McCormick then tied it at 21-21 with her fourth kill, before Omaha scored four more unanswered, capped off back-to-back blocks from Amanda Hardt and Emily Huss, to complete the comeback.
- The Mavericks carried their momentum into the second as they built a huge 17-7 lead. Fairbanks, McCormick, and Erica Fava combined for four service aces while six different Mavericks recorded a kill during the offensive barrage. Though Denver fought back to stall Omaha at set point and make it 24-21, one last blast from Fairbanks closed it out.
- In the closest set yet, neither team went up by more than three until the end as they played to 11 ties. Despite Kali Jurgensmeier and Ruch combining for nine points, the Pioneers rode a 4-0 run to win their first set.
- With two more key blocks from Huss and Hardt, the Mavericks initially kept things close. However, down by just four at 13-9, a 6-0 scoring run from Denver set them back 10 points and eventually forced a fifth set.
- Omaha quickly fell behind 6-2 in the final set. Fortunately, a clutch kill from Ruch jump started a 5-0 rally to put the Mavericks in front. Both teams would go back and forth as they continuously traded leads. Tied at 13-13, a huge block from Ruch and Hardt got Omaha to set point, only for Denver to once again tie it at 14 all. After a Pioneer service error put the Mavericks back in front, Ruch dealt the final blow to send Omaha to the finals.
Inside the Box Score
Fairbanks and McCormick both recorded double-doubles tonight, with the former getting 12 kills and 10 digs, and the latter picking up 10 kills and 12 digs.
For the fourth time this year, the Mavericks had at least 10 aces in a match, ending the night with 11. Fairbanks also led the team with a career-high four aces.
Huss and Hardt led the team’s defensive efforts with six total blocks each.
With their ticket punched to their third-straight Championship match, the No. 2 Mavericks will face the winner of the No. 1 Kansas City in the finals Tuesday at 7 p.m.