Vikings fall in five sets to Seattle Pacific in West Regional semifinal
Nov. 19, 2010
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - In a titanic battle between the Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball co-champions, Western Washington University fell 12-25, 25-20, 27-25, 22-25, 15-11, to Seattle Pacific University, in semifinal action Friday at the NCAA Division II West Regional being held at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of host Cal State San Bernardino.
The Vikings, the No.3 seed and ranked No.15 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA II Coaches Top 25, ended their season at 20-4.
"Tonight's match was a tell-tale sign of the way it's been like to play each other all year long," said Western coach Diane Flick (11th year, 233-64), who turned 39 today. "No matter what the score is - nobody is ever out of it."
"I told our team at the start of the year that our goal was to win GNAC and get to regionals, and we did that."
Outside hitter Megan Amundson (Sr., Stanwood) had 15 kills and 22 digs for Western. Middle blocker Emily Jepsen (Jr., Kennewick/Kamiakin) contributed 14 kills on .300 hitting and four block assists, and outside hitter Marlayna Geary (So., Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) added 10 kills and 10 digs.
Seattle Pacific, the No.2 seed, improved to 26-2. Three Falcons had double-doubles and Nikki Lowell had 16 kills and a .361 attack percentage. Sarah Risser had a match-high 17 kills and 18 digs, Paige Hoffman 12 kills, 19 digs and four block assists, and Lindsey Wodrich 15 kills and 22 digs.
Seattle Pacific advances to the regional championship match Saturday (7 p.m.) against No.1 seed Cal State San Bernardino, which swept No.4 UC Diego in the other semifinal.
Western never trailed in the first set, scoring the last nine points, three on service aces by setter Kari Rice (Sr., Toppenish/Eisenhower), who finished with 51 assists, 10 digs, five kills, and three blocks.
Seattle Pacific won the second set. The Falcons scored 11 of the first 17 points and Western got no closer than three after that.
The third set had 13 ties, the last at 25-all, before kills by Hoffman and Wodrich gave Seattle Pacific a 2-1 match lead. Trailing 23-20, the Vikings scored three straight points to tie and they knotted it twice again before falling. Geary had two huge kills during that stretch.
Western led 18-11 in the fourth set, only to see the Falcons rally to tie it at 20-20. But the Vikings scored five of the last seven points, two on kills by Jepsen, to tie the match at 2-2.
Western never led in the fifth and deciding set, but was within one point, 11-10. Seattle Pacific then scored four of the last five points for the victory.
The two teams split a pair of regular-season matches, the Vikings sweeping Seattle Pacific at Bellingham and the Falcons winning in four sets at Seattle.
Western libero Allison Gotz (Sr., Bothell/Archbishop Murphy) had a match-high 34 digs and defensive specialist Haleigh Adkins (Jr., Puyallup/Rogers) added 18. Gotz finished her four-year career with 1,708 digs, the second-highest total in school history.
Western was making its first post-season appearance since 2007 when the Vikings won the regional title and reached the national championship match.
It was the sixth trip to the NCAA national tournament for Western, all of them under Flick.
COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL: Seattle Pacific bounces Vikings in five
Michelle Gardner, Correspondent / THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - It wouldn't have been appropriate for the rubber match between the Seattle Pacific and Western Washington volleyball teams to end any other way.
And it was second-seeded Seattle Pacific getting the win that mattered most, knocking off their GNAC foe 12-25, 25-20, 27-25, 22-25, 15-11 in the NCAA Division II West Region semifinal on Friday, Nov. 19, at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino.
"It was a tell-tale sign of the way things are when we play,'' Vikings coach Diane Flick said. "Neither team is ever out of it. Both continue to fight and that was the case again tonight.''
Flick was hoping for a win on her 39th birthday but the team couldn't deliver. She said she wasn't that disappointed, however. She was just hoping for a better send off for her five seniors.
"A win for my birthday would have been great but the way I look at it I couldn't lose either way because now I have five new friends for life,'' she said. "One of our goals was a conference title and we did that. Another was to get back to regionals and we did that. Everything else is gravy.''
The teams split the first two games with third-seeded Western Washington (20-4) taking the first and fourth games. The Vikings forced the pivotal fifth game after almost squandering a 19-12 lead in the fourth. The score was even at 20 but the Vikings tallied five of the last seven points and wrapped up the game on a winner by Emily Jepsen.
Seattle Pacific (26-2), which has advanced in the playoffs for the first time in school history, never trailed in the decisive game. It surged out to a 10-6 lead on a kill by Sarah Risser.
But the Vikings did rally. They chalked up three of the next four points, creeping to within one point at 11-10 on a block by Jepsen and Kathryn Mertens on Lindsey Wodrich. But little went right for the Vikings the rest of the way.
Nikki Lowell lined a winner off the block to put the Falcons up 13-11. They got a match point on a winner by Risser and put it away second later on a hitting error by Jepsen.
The third game was the best of the match with Western Washington's biggest lead being two points and Seattle Pacific's being three at 23-20. The Vikings came back to draw even on a Falcons service error, a hitting mistake and a kill by WWU's Marlayna Geary.
The game was also tied at 25. Seattle Pacific finally capitalized on its third game point, securing it on a winner by Lindsey Wodrich.
Players welcomed the chance to play their rival after they split regular season matches with each winning at home.
"There was definitely a lot of 'we know you and you know us.' We had played seven games in two matches against them,'' senior libero Allison Gotz said. "You learn another team inside out. We just made one small change and it was another blocker instead of another digger.''
Western Washington hit at a .178 clip led by the 15 kills from Megan Amundson and 14 from Jepsen who also had four block assists. Setter Kari Rice totaled 51 assists. The team managed 117 digs with Gotz scrambling for 34 and Amundson 22.
Seattle Pacific hit .162 with Risser's 17 kills leading the way. Lowell was in double figures with 16 followed by Wodrich (15). It chalked up 116 digs with Shelby Swanson leading the way with 29.
"Both teams were ready to play. When you get to a third match there are no secrets," Seattle Pacific coach Chris Johnson said. "Playing a team you know there are pros and cons. It's good to know who you're playing. But they also know you."
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