Sunday was a big day for St. Thomas volleyball and football.
The volleyball team swept St. Olaf 25-20, 27-25 and 25-14 to win an NCAA Division III regional tournament in Schoenecker Arena and advance to the national tournament Friday-Sunday at Washington University in St. Louis. The Tommies will open against Juniata College (33-5) of Huntingdon, Penn.
Three hours earlier, the football team learned its first-round opponent in the NCAA Division III playoffs: Benedictine University of Lisle, Ill. The Tommies and Eagles will square off at noon Saturday on Palmer Field in O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
The volleyball victory over No. 11 St. Olaf capped a dominant weekend for No. 12 St. Thomas, which won nine straight matches Friday, Saturday and Sunday to win its first regional title. The Tommies avenged earlier setbacks to the Oles: 3-1 Sept. 15 at home and 3-0 Nov. 7 for the MIAC playoff championship in Northfield.
On Sunday, St. Thomas (31-6) rallied from deficits of 11-15 in the first set and 13-19 in the second to go up 2-0 and then blew open the third set by outscoring the Oles 12-1 to win the regional title.
Earlier Sunday, the football Tommies gathered at Davanni’s to watch ESPNews and the NCAA announcement of the 32-team playoff field.
St. Thomas is seeded No. 1 in the West Region and No. 2 nationally, behind only Wesley of Delaware and ahead of longtime Division III power Mount Union of Ohio (No. 3), North Central of Illinois (No. 4) and defending national champion UW-Whitewater.
Benedictine has an 8-2 record and is riding a seven-game winning streak, having captured its first Northern Athletic Conference title since 1934 and gaining its first NCAA bid.