Nov. 3, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University overcame a seven-point deficit in the decisive fifth set as it upset nationally ranked and league-leading Seattle Pacific University, 25-20, 30-32, 25-20, 20-25, 18-16, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball match Thursday at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
Outside hitters Marlayna Geary (Jr., Tacoma/Bellarmine) and Kinsey Davis (So., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) each had double-doubles for the Vikings, who improved to 14-5 overall and remained tied for second-place in the GNAC standings at 12-3 with Alaska Anchorage.
Seattle Pacific, ranked No.24 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll and rated No.4 in the West Region standings, had a six-match winning streak snapped as it dropped to 19-6 overall and had its GNAC lead cut to one-half match at 13-3.
If all three teams win the rest of their conference matches and end up tied at 15-3, UAA would claim the GNAC's automatic berth in the NCAA West Regionals based on its combined 3-1 head-to-head record against the other two.
Geary had 18 kills and 24 digs in posting her 11th double-double of the season and Davis had 18 kills and 23 digs. Breanne Graham (Jr., Vancouver/Hockinson) had 15 kills for the Vikings and Emily Jepsen (Sr., Kennewick/Kamiakin) added 14 kills and six blocks.
WWU libero Samantha Hutchinson (R-Fr., University Place/Curtis) had a match-high 45 digs, setter Laurie Yearout (Jr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark) 67 assists, 10 digs and four blocks; and Emily Boerger (So., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck) eight kills and a match-high seven blocks.
SPU was led by the match-high 24 kills of Lindsey Wodrich. Anna Herald had 43 digs for the Falcons.
With the match tied at two sets each, SPU jumped to an 8-1 lead in the final frame before WWU came storming back with a 10-2 run for an 11-10 lead. There were five ties and each team fought off one match point each before an attack error and a Davis kill ended the marathon match.
Geary had five kills in the decisive set.
The Vikings used a 7-2 run to take a 14-11 lead as they won the opening set. WWU had five set points in the second set before SPU won it by getting successive points on a kill by Wodrich and an attack error.
An 8-3 run gave WWU a 12-7 lead in the third set and the Falcons never got closer than two with Davis having six kills and eight digs. SPU opened up a 16-9 advantage in the fourth set and the Vikings never got closer than four to send the match to a fifth set.
Last year, WWU and Seattle Pacific tied for the GNAC championship. The Falcons won the first meeting this season between the two teams, which also went five sets, at Seattle on Oct. 8.
WWU plays host to Montana State Billings in a GNAC counter Saturday (7 p.m.) at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
Vikings complete miraculous comeback in five set win over SPU
ANDREW LANG - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
By Western Washington volleyball coach Diane Flick's standards, the Vikings have struggled this season, but Flick learned Thursday, Nov. 3, that Western's roster is a group full of fighters.
That was Flick's message to her Vikings down 8-1 to Seattle Pacific University in the fifth set, "to just keep fighting."
Western braved a handful of powerful kills by Seattle Pacific hitter Lindsey Wodrich and rallied from a seven-point hole in the fifth set to beat first-place Great Northwest Athletic Conference foe SPU 25-20, 30-32, 25-22, 20-25, 18-16, at Carver Gym.
The win moved Western to within a half game back of SPU for the GNAC lead, but with the Vikings' win Western will move into a tie for first once both teams play the same number of conference matches.
"We've had a rough year, but you can't talk anymore about the heart we had tonight," Flick said. "Getting down 8-1 (in the fifth set), I had to yell at them a bit. We started off really tentative but took it one point at a time."
After leading 2-1, Wodrich accounted for five straight SPU points and combined with a Emily Oslie kill, the Falcons took a commanding 8-1 advantage in the final set.
But just as it appeared SPU would complete another five set match win, as the Falcons did Saturday, Oct. 8, in Seattle during the two teams' first meeting, a deflated Western team, led by Marlayna Geary, began to show some life.
The Vikings went on a 9-2 run of their own, fueled by three Geary kills and two kills and a block by Western's Emily Jepsen.
Western nearly put the match away, as the Vikings served for the game, but SPU's Nikki Lowell and Paige Hoffman recorded back to back kills to take a 15-14 advantage.
Needing a point to force extended play, Geary earned her fifth kill of the set to tie it 15-15.
After gaining a 17-16 lead on a SPU hitting error, Western hitter Kinsey Davis got her shot at redemption.
Davis struck a strong shot down the left boundary line that found open space on the Falcons' side of the net as the Vikings threw their hands up in celebration of the dramatic victory.
"I'm beyond happy," Davis said. "This is just incredible. We played great and made sure we were together without making too many mistakes. I was so ecstatic (after the game-winning kill). I thought the shot was out, but it was in. It was the best feeling ever."
In Western's first meeting against the Falcons, Davis received the starting nod opposite Geary, but Flick said Davis struggled throughout the match.
But Davis, who tied a team-high of 18 kills, proved just how potent her game can be when she is on.
"She gives us another great arm," said Flick, referring to how Davis contributes to the Vikings. "We've just been shuffling her in and out of that hitter spot, but she kept swinging tonight and played real steady for us."
Western asserted itself from the start of the match, quickly earning a 1-0 set lead, but SPU battled the Vikings tough in the second set, as the Falcons narrowly pulled out a second set win 32-20.
The Vikings, however, were able to take back the momentum of the match by claiming a third set 25-22 win. Flick welcomed the victory, as she said the third set has been an area of concern for the Vikings all year.
"We have a history of coming out flat in the third set, so it was nice to see us get the win there."
Fitting to the back-and-forth script WWU and SPU followed, the Falcons easily took the fourth set 25-20 to set up Western's fifth set heroics.
"This win was really important for us," Davis said. "It put us back in first place."
Geary tied for a team-high 18 kills. Western's Breanne Graham totaled 15 kills and Jepsen compiled 14 kills in the winning effort.
The Vikings next match is against Montana State-Billings 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Carver Gym.
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