Jan. 24, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - From the outside, the end of long home and conference winning streaks and missing the Pacific Regional of the NCAA Division II National Tournament might mean the 2004 campaign was a disappointment for the Western Washington University women's volleyball team.
But Western coach Diane Flick (5 years, 113-26) says nothing could be further from the truth.
The Vikings were 18-7 overall, and finished second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 14-4 mark. Along the way, they had a 57-match conference winning streak, the fourth-longest in NCAA II history end, as did a 23-match home winning streak, the second-best in school history, and narrowly missed out on earning a fourth consecutive regional berth, being No.9 in the final Pacific Region rankings.
"I think while it's an honor to have high expectations, they can't overshadow what you accomplish," said Flick. "Why ask an Olympic silver medalist if they're disappointed with not winning gold, when they've done a great job in winning silver?"
The main cog in the Western attack was senior middle blocker Meghan Evoy (Olympia/Capital), who earned Daktronics first-team all-Pacific Region accolades and received all-region honorable mention from the American Volleyball Coaches Association, as well as being a CoSIDA District VIII Academic second-team all-star. Evoy led the Vikings in kills (386, 4.29 avg.), blocks (0.92 avg.) and attack percentage (.351), ranking third in the GNAC in attack percentage and fourth in kills. Evoy completed her career as Western's all time leader in kills with 1,379, 151 ahead of second place, and is also third in attack percentage (.320) and eighth in blocks (310).
"I've said it every single year - Meghan is the model of consistency," said Flick. "Behaviorally, in her play, emotionally, you could count on her. She's very smart, and while she may not be a vocal leader, she shows you the way."
Evoy teamed with fellow senior middle blocker Kristy Carstensen (Puyallup) to provide Western with the GNAC's most devastating middle attack. Both were first-team all-conference picks.
Carstensen had 371 kills (4.12 avg.), 90 blocks (0.91) and an attack percentage of .289, all ranking second on the squad, as well as being third on the team in service aces (28). She was sixth in the GNAC in both kills and blocks, and finished ninth in school history in career kills (989) and attack percentage (.262) and 10th in blocks (263).
"Kristy had that ability to turn it up a notch at key times," said Flick. "Some times we just had to saddle up and ride her shoulders for a while, because she'd provide the spark we needed."
The team's only other senior, Brianna Murray (Everett/Cascade) split her time between outside hitter and libero, earning honorable mention all-GNAC recognition. She had 192 kills (2.13 avg.) and 515 digs (5.72), being second in the conference in the latter category, and shared the team lead in service aces (35, 0.39). Murray's 1,310 career digs rank second in school history.
"Bri is a great combination of fire and ice," Flick said. "With all she's played indoor and outdoor, she's probably had more contacts with the ball than anyone I've coached. She's constantly finding ways to beat an opponent, or even win a drill."
"Our seniors as a group were 68-4 in the conference over four years. All of them were part of the cornerstone of our success. They set expectations for the program."
True freshman libero Courtney Schneider (Snohomish) was a second-team all-GNAC pick, leading the conference in digs (5.91 avg.) and ranking 13th nationally. Her 532 total digs are the second-best single-season total in school history, despite the fact she spent a good portion of the year as a defensive specialist in for only half the rotation.
"Courtney has a nose for the ball, and she's so smooth you don't realize how fast she moves," Flick said. "There aren't enough o's in smooth to describe her. People like playing around her, because she elevates the play of those with her. That's quite an accomplishment as a freshman."
At setter, junior Kristen Urdahl (Spokane/Ferris) averaged 13.39 assists a game (1,192 total), being second in the GNAC and eighth nationally, and shared the team lead in service aces (35, 0.39 avg.).
"She did a great job running our offense," Flick said of Urdahl. "It was an unspoken thing, but she had to follow in huge footsteps (of All-American Liz Bishop) and that can be a lot of pressure, but she carved her own path."
Two other juniors - outside hitter Jamie Petersen (Kent/Kentwood) and right-side hitter Krystal Knight (Sumner) - were starters for most of the season. Petersen had 181 kills (2.45 avg.) and 222 digs (3.00); Knight had 121 kills (1.75) and 178 digs (2.58) as well as contributing 26 aces (0.38) and 34 blocks (0.49).
Two redshirt freshmen saw extensive action. Outside hitter Jaime Anderson (SeaTac/Mount Rainier) had 98 kills (1.58 avg.) in 63 games, and middle blocker Lindsey Signer (Stanwood) had 45 (0.88). Signer saw most of her action after Western went to a unique three middle-blocker lineup late in the season, a move that helped the Vikings close the season with six consecutive victories.
"Our chemistry got better," said Flick. "You can try something new in volleyball without everybody buying in. They were forced to make it work, which forced them to work with each other more. It's always nice to give teams a different look - it forced teams to alter their game plan."
Completing the active roster were two true freshmen - setter Katie Robinson (Everson/Nooksack Valley) and outside hitter Siri Woutila (Seattle/Highline).
The Vikings led the GNAC and were ninth nationally in digs per game (21.74 avg.) and were second in the conference in kills (16.09), assists (14.64) and attack percentage (.225).
Eventual GNAC champion Central Washington ended Western's 57-match conference winning streak on Sept. 18, then ended the home winning streak on Oct. 15.
"Central was the us of past years, but we still had the best record of any second-place team in GNAC history," Flick said. "The parity among teams in the conference is increasing."
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