Wildcats’ Season Ends with Five-Set Heartbreaker at NCAA - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Wildcats’ Season Ends with Five-Set Heartbreaker at NCAA Division II Regionals

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From CWU Athletics

LAIE, Hawaii (Nov. 29) -- The Central Washington University volleyball team went toe-to-toe with California State University, San Bernardino, before falling to the 22nd-ranked Coyotes in five sets on Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Division II West Region Tournament at the Cannon Activities Center on the campus of Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The Wildcats fell 25-16, 20-25, 24-26, 25-16, 15-13 and ended their season with a 21-8 record.

 

CWU, the number six seed in the tournament, made its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2006 and kept things interesting with third-seeded Cal State San Bernardino (23-8). After a nine-point loss in the opening set, the Wildcats led for most of the second set to even the match at one set apiece.

 

Central Washington overcame a 9-2 deficit in the pivotal third set, rallying all the way back and taking its first lead of the set at 20-19. The Wildcats then had three match points, starting at 24-21, before the Coyotes scored three straight to tie the score, but CWU then finished off the frame with consecutive points to take a 2-1 match lead.

 

Cal State San Bernardino then hit .357 -- the highest single-set hitting percentage of the match -- to win the fourth set, and the Coyotes then emerged victorious in the fifth set after seven ties. Consecutive points broke a 9-9 tie, and CSUSB led the rest of the way.

 

"Our team left it all out there, and for that we are very proud," CWU head coach Mario Andaya said. "All year, we have put ourselves in position to win each match, and we did that again today. It's unfortunate that (the result) didn't go our way, but it was still a fantastic year for our program."

 

The 21 victories by the Wildcats in 2012 were the third-most in Andaya's 17-year tenure as head coach. CWU finished the regular season tied for second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings (14-4 GNAC record) and secured the program's fourth NCAA Division II post-season berth in the past nine seasons.

 

Senior Marcy Hjellum (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS) finished with a team-high 17 kills while adding 18 digs in her final collegiate match. Two of her teammates -- redshirt freshman Rachel Hanses (Yakima, Wash./West Valley HS) and junior Emmy Dolan (Castle Rock, Wash.) -- combined for 22 more kills with 12 and 10, respectively. Sophomore libero Kaely Kight (Spokane, Wash./Mead HS) finished one dig shy of her career-high, leading all players with 31 digs.

 

"Marcy showed so much heart and perseverance," Andaya said of the Wildcats' outside hitter. "She battled through shoulder pain but kept a highly competitive pulse that the team acquired and sustained all year, and that pulse was especially evident today and kept us fighting to the end."

 

Statistically, CWU and CSUSB were nearly even in most categories including aces, digs, and blocks. The Wildcats finished with a 5-4 edge in aces, while the Coyotes had an 81-79 margin in digs and a 14-11 advantage in blocks. Cal State San Bernardino totaled 15 more kills than CWU, however and hit nearly 100 percentage points higher.

 

Cal State San Bernardino had four players with 12 or more kills, led by a match-high 21 from Alexandra Torline. Mercedes Winchester added 15 kills and a .371 percentage for the Coyotes, who will face Grand Canyon University in the first of two regional semifinals on Friday night.

 

Hjellum, setter Devin Larson (Mukilteo, Wash./Kamiak HS), and Sabrina Schwindler (La Conner, Wash.) all completed their collegiate careers for the Wildcats on Thursday. Larson had 48 assists and a career-high four blocks, while Schwindler came off the bench in the fourth set.

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