Nov. 15, 2012
SEATTLE, Wash. - Middle blocker Kayla Erickson (So., Gig Harbor/Peninsula) had a career and match-high 19 kills as Western Washington University University defeated Seattle Pacific University, 25-23, 25-22, 19-25, 25-18, in a hard-fought Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball match Thursday night at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the SPU campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.15 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll, improved to 22-3 overall and earned an automatic berth in the West Regional by clinching the conference title with a 15-2 record.
"These girls have worked really hard and I'm so proud of them for everything they've done," said WWU coach Diane Flick (13th year, 270-72). "An outright league championship is pretty special."
The West Regional takes place on Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1. The site and pairings will be announced Sunday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
Seattle Pacific fell to 13-13 overall and 10-7 in league play.
Erickson had an attack percentage of .486 with just two errors in 35 attempts. She also had four block assists.
"We put a saddle on Kayla's back and she took us home tonight," Flick said. "This is the best I've seen her. She had a wonderful match."
Outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) had her league-leading 16th double-double with 13 kills and 17 digs. Geary now has 1,316 career kills. The school record is 1,379 set by Meghan Evoy (2001-04).
Setter Laurie Yearout (Spokane/Lewis & Clark) had 47 assists in becoming just the fourthWWU player to reach 3,000 in a career. Her current total stands at 3,006.
Libero Samantha Hutchinson (So., University Place/Curtis) finished with a match-best 33 digs. Jennica McPherson (R-Fr., Seattle/Kennedy) contributed five kills and 15 digs, and Emily Boerger (Jr., Marysville/Marsyville-Pilchuck) had five kills, one block solo and five block assists.
WWU led 13-9 in the first set, but there were 10 ties after that, the last at 23-23 before a kill by McPherson and an attack error ended it. The Vikings went out to an 11-4 lead in the second set, then withstood an 11-4 run by SPU.
The Falcons scored 13 of the first 17 points in winning the third set, WWU coming back to within three, 20-17. The Vikings ended the fourth set and the match with an 11-6 run that began with three straight kills by Erickson.
The league title is WWU's sixth in the 12-year history of the GNAC.
The Vikings end their regular-season Saturday (7 p.m.), Nov. 17, with a GNAC match at Montana State Billings.
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