July Rewind: Key injury doesn't phase Volleyball

Photo by Haley Staffon
Photo by Haley Staffon

Editor's Note: Starting July 7 and running through the rest of the month, Tommiesports.com will highlight 25 memorable events from St. Thomas' successful 2017-18 athletics year

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Volleyball Storms Back

Coach Thanh Pham's 15th season guiding Tommie Volleyball had a remarkable twist. Rarely do you lose a libero with All-MIAC ability to a serious mid-season injury, yet still win a championship and reach the NCAA playoffs.

The Toms were unranked nationally in the preseason but started fast, racing to a 15-3 record. A season-ending injury in early October to libero Ellie Meyer tested St. Thomas, but versatile sophomore Madie Kroehler stepped into that defensive role and kept things smooth. UST won seven of its next matches and claimed an MIAC championship.

That was the program's ninth conference title in the last 11 seasons. The NCAA playoff appearance was the 11th in 12 years. UST closed the season ranked No. 25 in the nation.

The Toms lost two five-game decisions to close the season -- in the conference playoff finals, and again in the NCAA playoffs -- but still posted a 25-7 final record. That let Pham reach 398 victories in his St. Thomas era.

Senior Whitney Lloyd made AVCA All-America, and later won an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship. Lloyd, who has built a 3.86 gpa in Biochemistry, played in 113 career matches and compiled 905 kills, a .288 attack percentage, 250 digs and 307 blocks. St. Thomas had an 80-40 record in her era.

Lloyd was among five seniors on the 25-player roster. Kroehler and junior Julia Spacek joined Lloyd on the All-MIAC team.

Junior Grace Bordson went on to make All-America in the high jump for track and field, too.

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Previous July Rewind stories:

July 7: Men's S&D Rule the Pool

July 8: Women's T&F Quartet Saves Best for Last

July 9: Academics, Give Em an A

July 10: UST Coaches get MIAC, Region Honors

July 11: Several '17-18 Sports Make Postseason Runs