RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The Western Washington University volleyball team had its season come to an end with a straight-sets defeat against Cal State San Bernardino Saturday night in the NCAA Division II West Regional Championship in Van Dyne Gym on the California Baptist University campus.
The No. 2-seed and nationally-ranked No. 5 Vikings were defeated by the No. 4-seed Coyotes 25-22, 25-19, 29-27 to snap a 20-match winning streak, with Cal State San Bernardino advancing to the NCAA II Elite 8 for the seventh time in program history. WWU had not lost since Sept. 16, with the 20-match winning streak tied for the third-longest in program history.
"I could not be prouder of this team for everything they have accomplished, both on the court and off," said 18th-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams. "This is a group that has gone through a lot, and the way they handle themselves and how much hard work they put in day in and day out. One match does not define the season."
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA) led the Vikings with her 25th double-double of the season, recording 14 kills (.279) and 12 digs. The GNAC Player of the Year finished the season averaging a program-record 4.31 kills per set.
Senior outside hitter Arielle Turner (Leavenworth, WA/Cascade) added 13 kills, while junior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) added 34 assists. Phelps and Boesel, along with junior libero Aubrey Buckner (Colville, WA) were named to the All-Regional Team.
"First off, hats off to California Baptist for running a wonderful tournament and congrats to Cal State San Bernardino on advancing," added Flick-Williams. "We just couldn't swing the momentum our way when we needed to and made a few too many unforced errors."
Lauren Nicholson, the D2CCA West Region Player of the Year, led Cal State San Bernardino (24-7) to their 13th consecutive win with a double-double of 21 kills and 10 digs. Alexis Cardoza added 12 kills while Lydia Morohunfola finished with 10 kills. Setter Jayann DeHoog recorded a match-high 41 assists.
The Vikings led in both the first and third sets, but could not hold on against the Coyotes, who had upset national-No. 1 ranked California Baptist the night before. CSUSB hit .317 for the match (57 kills, 13 errors, 139 attacks), compared to .235 (41-9-136) by the Vikings. The match featured 14 tie scores and 8 lead changes.
The Vikings dropped the opening set 25-22, leading early, but allowing a big mid-set run to go down 1-0. WWU held a four-point lead at 11-7 when CSUSB utilized its first timeout. The Coyotes swung the momentum in their favor going on an 11-2 run coming out of the timeout to take a five-point lead at 18-13. WWU answered with a 3-0 run to cut the lead to 18-16, and could not cut the deficit any more than two points to drop the set. Phelps (5 kills) and Turner (4 kills) led the Vikings, who were out-hit .300-.263 in the frame. Nicholson led the Coyotes with 7 kills on a .429 hitting percentage.
San Bernardino used another mid-set run while taking the second set 25-19 to go up 2-0 in the match. WWU trailed early 9-4, but the Vikings used a 7-1 run to pull ahead 11-10. After tie scores at 11-11, 12-12 and 13-13, CSUSB went on a 5-1 run to take a lead they would not give up in the set. The Vikings pulled to within two points at 20-18, but the Coyotes clinched the set winning five of the next six points. Phelps and Turner again led the Vikings with 4 kills apiece, while Nicholson led all players with 8 kills on a .316 hitting percentage.
The Vikings appeared to be on the way to extending the match building a nine-point lead at 20-11, but CSUSB stormed back going on a 13-4 run to pull even at 24-24. WWU was turned away on three set-point opportunities, before the Coyotes prevailed with a 3-0 run to seal the match with a 29-27 win. The Vikings were originally awarded the go-ahead point at 28-27, but the call was overturned, and after a lengthy discussion with the officials, CSUB closed out the set on a Nicholson kill. The Coyotes victory avenged losses to the Vikings in each of the last two regionals to end their season, including the 2015 West Regional Final in Anchorage, Alaska.
Game Notes: Abby Phelps, Brette Boesel and Aubrey Buckner were selected to the 12-player All-Tournament team...Phelps finished the regional averaging 5.73 kills per set and 4.55 digs per set...the 27 wins are tied for the 5th-best in a season in program history...WWU has played in the NCAA II West Regional Championship match in three consecutive seasons...Phelps finished the season with 466 kills to establish a program rally-scoring record (previous record was 435 by Jamie Anderson in 2007) and 2nd-most in program history behind 530 by Lorrie Post in 1990...set the single-season mark averaging 4.31 kills per set, breaking the previous mark of 4.29 by Meghan Evoy in 2004 (386 kills in 90 sets).
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