TAMPA — Asked to analyze the University of Tampa's run to the NCAA Division II volleyball national championship, Spartans coach Chris Catanach chose a two-word summation:
But he quickly added with a smile: "As satisfying as it gets.''
The Spartans (33-4), thought to be at least a year away from national-title heights, defeated Western Washington University 21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11 in Saturday night's championship match at Pittsburgh.
Spartan volleyball captured its third national title (along with 2006 and 2014), while earning the 16th overall NCAA championship for UT athletics.
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Last season, the Spartans were 18-14, the lowest victory total in Catanach's tenure, and furiously rallied from a 3-10 record to squeak into the NCAA Tournament field.
"Based on where we were last year, with our age and development, I didn't necessarily expect this to happen,'' Catanach said. "I thought we'd be building toward 2019 or 2020 (for a national-championship run). This is still a group that has a lot of growth ahead to be a dominant team.
"That being said, they did great and peaked at the right time. It was an enjoyable group and an enjoyable season.''
UT's Sammy Mueller (46 assists, 11 digs and two service aces) was named Most Outstanding Player in the national tournament. Mueller was joined on the all-tournament team by fellow Spartans Taylor Fosler, Alexandra Misca and Katie McKiel.
McKiel took top honors for the season by being named first-team All-American. Sorrel Houghton, a fellow sophomore, was named second-team All-American.
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