Western loses to Cal State San Bernardino, 3 games to 1, in NCAA II Pacific Regional semifinal
Nov. 21, 2003
LA JOLLA, Calif. - For the second consecutive year, a brilliant season came to an end all too soon for the Western Washington University volleyball team as the No.2-seeded Vikings fell to No.3-seed Cal State San Bernardino, 25-30, 30-16, 30-21, 30-23, Friday in a NCAA Division II Pacific Regional semifinal contest between two teams ranked among the top four nationally.
The loss ended Western's season at 24-2, the best record in school history, and also snapped its school-record 24-match winning streak.
The Vikings, ranked No.2 in the latest AVCA/NCAA Division II Coaches Poll, were making their third straight regional appearance. They also reached the semifinals in 2001, but had never before gotten a first-round bye.
CSUSB, ranked No.4 nationally, improved to 27-4. The Coyotes advance to the regional championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between No.1 seed and host UC San Diego (25-4) and No.5 seed Hawaii Pacific (16-7).
CSUSB had a .286 attack percentage with Cathleen Price getting a match-high 22 kills and just 1 error in 45 attempts (.467) and Kim Morohunfola having 21 kills and 5 errors in 39 attempts (.410). Price and Morohunfola also had four blocks each. Bridget Crosby led the Coyotes with a match-high 32 digs.
"Things we relied on all year, didn't go as well as we had planned," said Western coach Diane Flick. "Our serving wasn't good enough to keep their middles out of the match. To be quite frank, their middles were just outstanding tonight."
Western outside hitter Brianna Murray (Jr., Everett/Cascade) had 24 digs and libero Nicola Parker (Sr., Auburn) added 23 as she broke the school season record for digs, finishing with 542. Setter Liz Bishop (Sr., Seattle/Mount Rainier) had 45 assists, 13 digs and two service aces.
"This team is a special group of people," Flick said. "It's always at the end when you realize that each squad is just a team for a year. I can't say enough about our two seniors Nicola (Parker) and Liz (Bishop). I wish I could have them for 10 more years. They've had great careers. It's hard to end on a loss, but this has been a record-breaking year for us and they were a huge part of it."
Parker led the NCAA II nationally in digs per game with a 6.16 average, and Bishop was fifth nationally in assists per game (13.54). Parker set a school record for career digs with 1,435 and Bishop finished second among Western career leaders in assists with 4,176.
It was the second straight season that the Vikings were eliminated from the regional tournament by a team they had defeated earlier in the season. Last year, Western fell to Cal State L.A. in the opening round. That loss ended an 18-match winning streak.
In the first game, Western led 17-11, only to have the Coyotes rally to take a 23-22 lead. But the Vikings came back to score eight of the last 10 points.
"We came out with a lot of confidence and we were running the game plan really well," said Flick, "but they gained momentum towards the end of the first game. When they were running their middle as often as they were, we just couldn't catch up to them."
CSUSB got out to a quick 12-4 lead in game two and Western never got closer than six. The Coyotes used 5-0 run to go in front 20-11 and take control of game three. Western was within three, 24-21, in game four before CSUSB closed the match out with a 6-2 run.
Western will take a 54-match league winning streak, the fourth longest in NCAA II history, and an 18-match home victory string into the 2004 season. The Vikings won a third straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference title. They have never lost a GNAC match since the league was formed three years ago. The NCAA II record for consecutive league victories is 77 set earlier this season by West Texas A&M University.
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