Special to the Herald
One day after advancing to bracket play, the Ashford Unviersity volleyball team looked to qualify for the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship on Saturday.
The Saints took the first step toward their goal with a sweep of third seed Rochester College in the afternoon semifinals but fell to top-seeded Cal State San Marcos in Saturday night’s Association of Independent Institutions Championship.
Ashford (24-16) came up with a thrilling 27-25 win to open the title match. The second set featured more exciting action, but the Cougars (26-11) held on for a 25-23 win to knot the match up.
The third set featured nine ties and three lead changes, but the Cougars came out on top of the back-and-forth game with a 28-26 win. San Marcos pounced on the Saints in the fourth set, jumping to a 7-2 lead en route to a 25-21 win and its third consecutive conference tournament championship.
The Saints were tested in the opening set against Rochester, holding off the Warriors 32-30. Ashford used that momentum to cruise to wins in the final two sets 25-18 and 25-19. San Marcos advanced to the title game in the morning session, downing Johnson & Wales (Colo.) in four sets.
Freshman Victoria Day put down 29 kills while Danielle Tombolato finished with 19 kills and six blocks on the day for the Saints. Junior Samantha Schultz added 51 digs to lead the Saints. All three players were selected to the all-tournament team.