SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The Cal State San Bernardino women's volleyball team showed why it's ranked sixth nationally and the top seed at the NCAA West Regional as it swept fourth-seeded UC San Diego Friday in semifinal action by scores of 25-14, 25-11 and 25-23 at Coussoulis Arena.
The Tritons concluded their season at 19-9, while the Coyotes improved to 27-2 and will take on Seattle Pacific, the second seed, Saturday for the regional title. Seattle Pacific defeated third seeded Western Washington 3-2 in Friday's other semifinal. San Bernardino, competing in its 11 straight regional final, will be looking for its third consecutive West Region title and the chance to advance to the NCAA Elite Eight in Louisville, Ky. Dec. 2-4.
"They're pretty solid all around," said UCSD head coach Ricci Luyties. "They have quite a few players that could play at the Division I level. There's not much of a weakness there."
The Coyotes dominated the first two sets, out-hitting the Tritons .417 (13-3-24) to .037 (9-8-27) in the opening frame and .458 (12-1-24) to -.091 (7-9-22) in the second. After two sets, San Bernardino held a 10-1 lead in blocks.
"Our passing broke down a bit and we got out of system," said Luyties. "Our serve receive led to unforced errors for us and blocks for them."
The Tritons made several adjustments in the third set.
"We went to a 5-1 with Roxy (Roxanne Brunsting) setting," said Luyties. "We moved Hillary (Williamson) to the outside and had Audrey (Green) playing full-time on the right. I think we were a couple of plays away from winning the set."
UCSD hit into just one Coyote block in the third set and had four stuffs of its own. CSUSB hit a match-low .200 (15-7-40) and UCSD hit a match-high .122 (11-6-41) in the set.
San Bernardino got out to an 8-4 lead in the final set before UC San Diego ripped off four straight points to tie it at 8-8, two of those coming on service aces by Brittany Lombardi. CSUSB battled to a 19-14 lead, but again UCSD rallied for five consecutive points to again knot the set at 19-19, the 19th point coming off a kill from Green. A Coyote hitting error and a kill by UCSD's Katie Condon put the Tritons up 21-19, but the Coyotes came right back with three unanswered points to go up 22-21. The teams traded points until a kill by Samantha Middleborn and a Triton attack error gave the set and match to San Bernardino.
"I think our players could have given up but they didn't," said Luyties. "We gave it everything we had. A lot of plays weren't happening for us, but we didn't quit, so I think that was a huge positive."
Condon put up a match co-high 10 kills while Williamson and Julia Freidenberg each had five for UCSD. Brunsting finished with a team-best 10 digs and 16 assists.
For San Bernardino, Nicole Moore had 10 kills and five blocks. Jane Chafeh chipped in with nine kills, a match-high 12 digs and four blocks. Morgan Carty, Middleborn and Megan Johnson all had seven kills and Johnson led all players with seven blocks.
When all was said and done, the Tritons hit .044 (27-23-90) for the match and the Coyotes came in at .330 (40-11-88)
UCSD went 0-3 against CSUSB this season, but holds a 32-18 all-time record against the Coyotes. The Tritons won 12 of their final 14 matches of the season, both losses coming against CSUSB.
"Overall, even through the ups and downs of the season, I'm happy with our whole journey," said Luyties. "We started slowly but turned things around and we had a great 11-match win streak, so it was fun. We have a lot of talent coming back and a few redshirts that I'm really impressed with."
On Thursday, Brunsting, Condon and Freidenberg were named to the All-CCAA First Team. All three will return for the 2011 season as Brunsting and Condon are juniors and Freidenberg is a sophomore this year.
UCSD has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the 11 years it has competed at the Division II level.