WWU swept Tarleton State 3-0 in the NCAA Division II quarterfinal on Thursday in Pittsburgh. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
Vikings Sweep Tarleton State to Advance to National Semifinal
November 29, 2018
PITTSBURGH, Penn. – The Western Washington University volleyball team opened the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament with a 3-0 sweep in the quarterfinal round over Tarleton State on Thursday afternoon in the A.J. Palumbo Center on the Duquesne University campus.
The No. 3 seed Vikings defeated the No. 6 seed TexAnns 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 in a tight match that featured 23 tie scores and 8 lead changes. WWU came from behind in each set to gain the 3-0 sweep. WWU improves to 29-3 on the season by extending its winning streak to 29 consecutive matches.
Western moves on to the national semifinal where they will face No. 7 seed Lewis University 29-7), a 3-0 winner over No. 2 seed Wheeling Jesuit in the first quarterfinal match of the day.
“I want to say congratulations to my team. I have been really pleased with how we have been playing down the stretch in tight situations,” said WWU 19th-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams. “I feel like we have been a point-for-point team and stayed pretty calm when we got in some tough situations and trusted the training that we have. Just really proud of the team.”
The Vikings combined for a .303 hitting percentage to secure its 29th consecutive victory, improving to 4-0 in the postseason. Senior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA) led the way with her 27th double-double of the season, as the First Team AVCA All-American finished with 13 kills and 11 digs. Junior middle Kayleigh Harper (Oak Harbor, WA) added 11 kills with a .526 hitting percentage, making just one error on 19 attempts. Senior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) added 37 assists while junior defensive specialist Mae Thungc (Kent, WA/Kentridge) had a team-high 13 digs.
WWU’s balanced team effort also received 9 kills on a .294 hitting percentage from redshirt freshman outside hitter Gabby Gunterman (Lake Stevens, WA) and 8 kills and 8 digs from sophomore Alison Davenport (Auburn, WA/Auburn Mountainview). Senior middle Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) led all players with 4 blocks, as the Vikings out-blocked Tarleton 5.0-4.0.
“Gabby and Alison have been our unsung heroes, playing really well down the stretch,” added Flick-Williams. “When those two can contribute like they did today, it takes pressure off our other hitters and really creates a nice balance.”
Tarleton State (32-5) finished hitting .233 for the match, led by Amber Strange’s 15 kills and .324 hitting percentage. Tatyana Tuialii-Umi finished with 10 kills. Adriana Darthuy added 22 digs while Blanca Izquierdo had 24 assists in the TexAnns’ two-setter system.
SET 1 (WWU 25, TARLETON 21): The Vikings and TexAnns fought through seven tie scores before WWU pulled away from a 15-15 tie by going on a 7-3 run to build a 21-18 lead. Tarleton fought off a pair set points, before Michaela Hall spiked the set winner with her fifth kill of the set. Abby Phelps led the way with 6 kills on a .545 hitting percentage, with Gabby Gunterman adding 4 kills on a perfect hitting percentage. The Vikings hit .474 as a team, with one error on 38 attacks. Amber Strange led the TexAnns with 8 kills on a .889 hitting percentage.
SET 2 (WWU 25, TARLETON 22): In a near carbon-copy of the first set, the Vikings and TexAnns battled through eight tie scores, before the Vikings used another late run to go up 2-0 with a 25-22 win. WWU trailed 16-15, but went on an 8-3 run to take a 3-point lead at 22-19. Tarleton wouldn’t get any closer than a 2-point deficit as the Vikings put the set away on a Kayleigh Harper kill. Harper led the way with 9 kills in the second set on a .818 hitting percentage as the Vikings hit .472 as a team. Alison Davenport added 4 kills for the Vikings.
SET 3 (WWU 25, TARLETON 23): Tarleton gained momentum in the early part of the third set building a 4-point lead at 7-4, but the Vikings responded out of a timeout with a 4-0 run to things up. From that point on the set remained close with Tarleton holding a slight through the middle part of the set. WWU tied things up at 15-15, and took a 16-15 lead on an Abby Phelps ace, but Tarleton went on a 4-1 run to build a 19-17 lead. WWU put together another late run scoring 6 of the next 7 points to take a 23-20 lead. The TexAnns closed the gap going on a 3-0 run to tie the set at 23-23, but a Phelps kill gave the Vikings match point and a long rally went in favor of WWU to secure the sweep. Phelps had 5 of her team-high 13 kills in the final set.
The Vikings return to action in the NCAA Division II Volleyball national semifinal vs. Lewis University…the match will start at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT and stream live online at NCAA.com.
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