A season-long hot streak resulted in West Texas A&M volleyball’s first NCAA Division II national championship in 25 years as the Lady Buffs won the 2022 national title downing No. 1-seed Concordia-St. Paul in four sets, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 28-26, on Saturday night Royal Brougham Pavilion in Seattle, Wash.
WT (33-4 overall) finished the season on an incredible 26-match win streak with its last loss coming almost three months ago on Sept. 10 to UT Tyler. The win also snapped powerhouse Concordia’s (31-15) unheralded 29 match win streak in the Elite Eight.
“I was really excited about the environment,” WT head coach Kendra Potts said in her postgame press conference. “The rallies were high level and we had to play close to perfect. This was so much fun to be a part of and I’m so proud this team gets to experience something like this.”
The opening set saw seven lead changes with 15 ties as the Golden Bears breaking away with 25-23 set win to grab hold of the match lead. However, the Lady Buffs regrouped with WT securing the second set victory, 25-23, then the third set 25-20, and a back-and-forth set that saw multiple lead changes. CSP jumped out to a 23-20 lead before the Lady Buffs tied things up, 24-24. Gaining momentum, the Lady Buffs were able to outlast CSP to get the final two championship points, 28-26.
“We were down 23-20,” Potts said. “We just decided to focus on the physical part of it than the emotional. The team bought in and applied the game-plan so well.”
WT hit .307 overall in the championship match with 62 kills to go along with 56 assists, 56 digs, 12 blocks and five aces. Senior Kayla Elliot led the night, matching a career-high 17 kills followed by senior Abi Nash with 15 and Torrey Miller with 14 while Nash had three aces. Canyon graduate Bryli Contreras hit the floor for 17 digs. Contreras, Nash, Elliott and Miller were all named to the All-Tournament team.
“We knew this was our last match for the seniors,” Nash said. “We were the aggressors and that’s what it took for us to win.”
Miller added to her heavy hardware from this season as the Tournament MVP capped off what’s already been an incredible ride. The junior standout was named the Lone Star Conference Offensive Player of the Year and garnered AVCA first team All-American honors. Miller ended her triumphant season with a team-best 479 kills to go with 306 digs.
“This season means more to me than a championship,” Miller said. “This is the last time I’ll ever play with some of my favorite people in the world. The class I came in with shaped me and I am so grateful for that. I am so proud to be a Lady Buff and all that being a Lady Buff entails.”
WT won has won its first Division II national championship since 1997 and the fourth in program history. For Potts, an Amarillo High product, this is an incredible story. Potts was a three-time All-American at West Texas A&M from 2000-2003, inducted into the WT Hall of Champions in 2014, and has now led her Alma mater to a national title becoming the fourth head coach from WT to do so joining Kim Hudson, Jim Giacomazzi, and Debbie Hendricks.
Potts earned the AVCA National Coach of the Year over this weekend, and is now 9-2 all-time in the NCAA Division II Tournament and 91-20 at WT.