Austin, Texas – The Rattlers entered Friday’s first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament confident they could beat anyone in the field.

Now, after a wild opening round, the only team standing between St. Mary’s University and the tournament title is a squad it has already beaten.

The Rattlers cruised past Newman University 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-22), advancing to the Heartland Conference Tournament’s championship round despite entering the tourney as the No. 3 seed.

Thanks to Dallas Baptist University’s stunning victory over top-seeded St. Edward’s University, the Rattlers will be playing the bottom-seeded Patriots – and not the Hilltoppers – for the right to earn an automatic berth in next weekend’s NCAA South Central Regional.

St. Mary’s match against Dallas Baptist is set for 8 p.m. Saturday on the campus of St. Edward’s in Austin.

Incidentally, the Rattlers defeated both Newman and Dallas Baptist during a late-season surge that cemented them a spot in the tournament.

On Friday, there were plenty of familiar faces leading St. Mary’s (14-17) to yet another victory.

Mallory Moeller (Jr., Geronimo, Texas) recorded a team-high nine kills to go along with a .350 hitting percentage, while Stephanie Flores (Jr., San Antonio) led the Rattlers with 20 digs. Kori McCarver (Sr., San Antonio) added 31 assists, and Luisa Rodrigues (Sr., Belo Horizonte, Brazil) pitched in eight digs.

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