Austin, Texas – The St. Mary’s University volleyball team departed the St. Edward’s University campus Thursday night having endured a hard-fought loss on the hardwood.

You’ll have to forgive the Rattlers if they still were grinning from ear to ear the entire drive back home.

Despite a 3-1 loss in the latest “Battle of the Saints” match, St. Mary’s punched its ticket to the Heartland Conference Tournament thanks to Newman University’s victory over the University of Texas-Permian Basin on Thursday.

It marks the Rattlers’ first tournament appearance since 2006 – and in coach Jenny Warmack-Chipman’s first year at the helm, no less.

St. Mary’s is currently in fourth place but could move into third place with a victory over Dallas Baptist University on Saturday.

Against St. Edward’s, the Rattlers (12-17, 6-5 in conference) fell behind 1-0 after a 25-13 defeat in the first game, but bounced back with a 25-20 triumph to even the score. However, the Hilltoppers rebounded 26-24 and 25-17 to win the match 3-1.

Stephanie Proske (Jr., LaGrange, Texas) led the way with 11 kills and a .368 hitting percentage for the Rattlers, while Kate Kershner (Sr., San Antonio) added 10 kills.

Stephanie Flores (Jr., San Antonio) paced St. Mary’s with 22 digs, while three others – Kershner, Kori McCarver and Allie Murray – reached double-figure digs. McCarver (Sr., San Antonio) had 14, while Murray (So., San Antonio) and Kershner added 11 apiece.

McCarver also had a game-high 36 assists.

The Rattlers will close out their regular season at Dallas Baptist University at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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