SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Caitlin Brenton had a team-high 12 kills as the 12th-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball team defeated Dixie State, 3-1, in a NCAA Division II West Regional quarterfinal match Thursday at Cal State San Bernardino's Coyote Den.
Scores were 25-19, 18-25, 25-18 and 25-22. UCSD, the region's third seed, improved to 26-5, while sixth-seeded DSU's season came to an end at 17-10. It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Tritons will now face fourth-ranked and second-seeded BYU-Hawaii in a semifinal match on Friday at 5 p.m.
"It wasn’t our best match that we’ve played as a team, but coming out with a win is very nice obviously," said UCSD head coach Ricci Luyties. "When you don’t play your best and can still win, I think that’s a good sign. Even though some of our players weren’t playing that well, they picked it up and came through at the end of games."
Brenton, an opposite hitter, had five assists, a service ace, six digs and six blocks (two solos) to go along with her 12 kills. She amassed a match-high 17.0 points.
Outside hitter Danielle Dahle (La Mesa/Grossmont HS) and middle blocker Sara McCutchan each totaled 10 kills in the victory. McCutchan hit a strong .450 with a single error in 20 attacks. She also led all players with seven blocks (two solos).
The Red Storm received a match-best 14 kills from both Nicole Koehler and Maddie Rex. Kohler demonstrated consistency, hitting .440 with three errors in 25 swings, while Rex posted a double-double by adding 10 digs. Alex Anderson dug a match-high 23 balls.
Both teams struggled with their attack at times. Dixie State hit just .164 (50-25-152) for the match and UC San Diego finished at .204 (54-23-152). The Tritons held a hefty 13.0 to 5.0 advantage in blocks.
"We had a lot of errors and were trying to do too much in certain situations," said Luyties. "The players were thinking they had to do some things that they really shouldn’t do. Everybody’s going to make errors, it’s part of the game. The problem was that we made too many and it started to become contagious. But, the good thing was that we bounced back from that."
The opening set was all UCSD as the Tritons hit .312 to the Red Storm's .231. After DSU won the first point of the match on a service ace, UCSD scored the next two points and did not relinquish its lead the rest of the way.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second frame, with DSU hitting .132 and UCSD posting its worst attack percentage of the match, .047. The Red Storm jumped out to a 3-0 advantage and never trailed in the set, leading by as many as eight points at 23-15.
In the third set, the Tritons hit a match-best .333. Conversely, Dixie State hit .071, its lowest percentage of the contest. Despite the difference, the score stayed close until late. With the Tritons up by just one at 18-17, they won seven of the next eight points to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Dahle had five kills in the set.
Both teams posted the exact same attack numbers in the fourth set - a .191 hitting percentage with 15 kills, six errors and 47 attempts. The set was tied seven times, the last at 21-21. The Tritons took four of the last five points of the match, with Brenton contributing a pair of kills and two block assists (along with Kamila Tan (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS) and McCutchan) to help close it out.
BYU-Hawaii advanced to Friday's semifinal round by sweeping Alaska Anchorage, the region's seventh seed, Thursday afternoon. UCSD is 3-2 all-time against the Seasiders. In 2012, BYUH defeated the Tritons, 3-1, in a West Regional quarterfinal match in Laie on the North Shore of Oahu.
"Anybody that we play here is going to be good," said Luyties. "It’s nice to get today's match out of the way and hopefully we show up as the team that we are tomorrow and play loose like we always do."
In the other two quarterfinal matches Thursday, No. 4 Sonoma State swept No. 5 Western Washington and No. 1 Cal State San Bernardino blanked No. 8 Central Washington. CSUSB and SSU will meet in a semifinal Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The West Region championship match will be played Saturday at 7 p.m.
UCSD is playing in its eighth consecutive NCAA postseason. The Tritons have earned a postseason berth in 32 of the last 33 years.