Nov. 25, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University volleyball team earned the No.5 seed at the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships, which take place Dec. 5-7 at host and No.1 seed Cal State San Bernardino. The announcement came Monday, Nov. 25, on the NCAA Selection Show.
The Vikings, 23-3, face No.4 seed Sonoma State (25-5) in an opening-round match Thursday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m. The winner advances to the second round against either CSUSB (25-5) or No.8 seed Central Washington (15-11) on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m.
In the two other first-round matches, No.2 seed and defending national champion BYU Hawaii (24-1) faces No.7 seed Alaska Anchorage (21-9) and No.6 seed Dixie State (17-9) plays No.3 seed UC San Diego (25-5).
It is the eighth trip to the NCAA nationals for WWU during the 14-year tenure of head coach Diane Flick (296-77). The Vikings earned an automatic regional berth by winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship with a 16-2 record.
It is the first time since 2006 and 2007 that WWU has made back-to-back regional appearances. The Vikings went to regionals three straight times from 2001to 2003. WWU, which reached the national championship match in 2007, also went to regionals in 2010.
The Vikings, ranked No.10 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA II Top 25 Poll, have swept 20 matches this fall with seven straight three-set wins during one stretch. Their highest rating this season was No.7.
WWU is riding a nine-match victory string heading into the regional. Prior to that, the Vikings had two winning streaks of seven matches.
The Vikings, who swept Sonoma State in a regional opening-round match last year, lost to the Seawolves in four games on Sept. 14.
"We just wanted to see a number from one to eight in front of our name," said Flick of WWU's seed. "Sonoma State is a very solid team. We're both scrappy teams who enjoy playing one another."
WWU ranks fifth nationally among NCAA II statistical leaders in digs per set (19.28), seventh in attack percentage (.274), ninth in kills per set (14.29), 11th in assists per set (13.26) and 19th in blocks per set (2.38).
The Vikings are holding opponents to .123 hitting and have a 202.0 to 95.0 advantage in blocks.
WWU middle blocker Kayla Erickson (Jr., Gig Harbor) ranks fifth nationally in attack percentage at .385 and currently tops school career leaders in hitting at .363. She is 21st nationally in blocks per set (1.22) and 23rd in points per set (4.44).
Libero Samantha Hutchinson (Jr., University Place/Curtis), who has earned GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this season, is second nationally in digs per set at 6.90. She ranks third among WWU career leaders in digs with 1,650, 58 away from No.2 Allison Gotz (2007-10).
Last year, Hutchinson was a second-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American and finished No.5 nationally in digs, averaging 6.41.
Setter Taylor Dillard (Jr., Milton/Fife) ranks eighth nationally in assists per set at11.80.
WWU, directed by seven-time GNAC Coach of the Year Diane Flick (14th year, 296-77), has five players averaging over two kills per set. They are Erickson 3.68, outside hitter Kelsey Moore (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) 2.99, opposite-side hitter Jennica McPherson (So., Seattle/Kennedy) 2.59, outside hitter Rachel Roeder (So., Sammamish/Issaquah) 2.21, and middle blocker Emily Boerger (Sr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), the team's only senior, at 2.09.
McPherson also is averaging 2.76 digs and has served a team-leading 30 aces.
WWU leads the GNAC in hitting percentage, opponent attack percentage, assists, kills and digs.
Erickson is the conference leader in hitting percentage with Boerger third and Roeder fifth. Other league leaders for the Vikings are Dillard in assists and Hutchinson in digs. Erickson also is second in points, third in blocks and fourth in kills.
Boerger, who earlier earned CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District honors, received GNAC academic all-star honors last week for the third time. Recognized for the second time were Erickson and Moore.
NOTES: The West region champion advances to the Elite Eight on Dec. 12-14 at U.S. Cellular Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa ... WWU finished 7-2 at home this season, having a 17-match home court winning streak snapped on Oct. 19 in a five-game loss to Alaska Anchorage. They are 121-14 at Carver Gym since going to a SportCourt surface in 2000 ... The Vikings have won eight league titles in the 13-year history of the GNAC ... Hutchinson is a three-time GNAC Defensive POW this season ... Erickson received GNAC Offensive POW honors for Sept. 1-7, Moore for Oct. 27-Nov. 2, and Dillard for Nov. 10-16; and Boerger was the GNAC Defensive POW for Sept. 29-Oct. 5 ... Boerger and Erickson were both Sonoma State all-tourney picks.
NCAA West Regional - Dec. 5-7, 2013 at San Bernardino, Calif.
The Den - host Cal State San Bernardino
First Round - Thursday, Dec. 5
12:00 p.m. - No. 3 seed UC San Diego (25-5) vs. No. 6 Dixie State (17-9) 2:30 p.m. - No. 2 seed BYU-Hawaii (24-1) vs. No. 7 seed Alaska-Anchorage (21-9) 5:00 p.m. - No. 4 seed Sonoma State (25-5) vs. No. 5 seed Western Washington (23-3) 7:30 p.m. - No. 1 seed Coyotes (25-5) vs. No. 8 seed Central Washington (15-11)
Second Round - Friday, Dec. 6
5:00 p.m. - UCSD/Dixie State winner vs. BYUH/UAA winner 7:30 p.m. - SSU/WWU winner vs. CSUSB/CWU winner
Championship - Saturday, Dec. 7 - 7 p.m.
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How to Follow The Vikings
Watch WWU Athletics in action on a busy first day of December