Volleyball Defeats Colorado State, 3-1, In NCAA First Round

Dec. 5, 2002

HONOLULU --Paige Benjamin's (Redmond, Wash.) record-setting performance against Colorado State this evening, lifted the Washington volleyball team to a first round victory in the 2002 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament, 3-1 (26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-27). With 23 kills, Benjamin set a school record for most kills in a season with 556. The Huskies advance to the second round and will face the winner of the Hawaii/ Western Kentucky match Friday night at 7 p.m. (PST).

Game one had seven lead changes before the Rams tallied the 30-26 victory. Washington took its first lead at 7-6, which it pushed to a six-point advantage at 18-12 with three kills by sophomore Sanja Tomasevic (Uzice, Yugoslavia). CSU then went on a 7-0 run behind two kills and a block by freshman Andreya Downs to regain the lead at 19-18. The score knotted five times through 26-all before two CSU kills and two aces put the game out of reach. The Rams out hit the Huskies, .424 - .321 in the game.

The Huskies came back in game two, taking the match 30-25 despite a Colorado State team that fought off three game points. Benjamin led the way with eight kills, including the game-winner. The teams played tight through 7-7 before Washington began to pull away. The Huskies built their lead to seven at 26-19 and 27-20 with freshman Jessica Veris's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) four kills, one block and service ace. Washington out hit Colorado State, .286 - .205 in the game.

Washington took that momentum into game three, out hitting CSU, .412 - .162 to earn the 30-22 victory. The Huskies never trailed in the game and held its largest lead at 28-21. Tomasevic led the Dawgs with six kills, while Benjamin added five. Washington also used six blocks, including three assists each by junior Kara Bjorklund (Olympia, Wash.), sophomore Alexis McDonald (Long Beach, Calif.) and Veris.

The Huskies started game four with six unanswered points, forcing a CSU timeout. The Rams chipped at Washington's lead to come within two at 8-6. UW again pushed its lead to five at the 18-13 mark but CSU battled to within one at 18-17. The Huskies then used an ace and kill by Bjorklund and kills by senior Elissa Ross (Spokane, Wash.) and McDonald to establish the 24-19 edge and force another CSU timeout. The Rams pulled within two at 28-26 but a Benjamin kill and a CSU service error gave Washington the victory, 30-27.

'It took us a while to get going,' said head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'I never really felt like we got into a good rhythm offensively but sometimes you don't have to when your outside hitters are hitting over 30 percent. We're going to have to be in a big-time rhythm tomorrow night but we've been better on the road the second night. For whatever reason, maybe we get more into our routines, we get a little bit more comfortable, but a win is a win and we're going to move on.'

Washington had three players finish the match with double-digit kills, including Benjamin (23), Tomasevic (16) and McDonald (10). Tomasevic also anchored the defense with 12 digs, while Bjorklund tallied six blocks on the night.


Washington (20-10) def. Colorado State (22-10) - December 5, 2002

Washington def. Colorado State, 3-1 (26-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-22) at Honolulu, Hawaii (NCAA first round)

Kills: UW 66 (Benjamin 23), CSU 65 (Knox 19); Hitting Percentage: UW .318, CSU 219; Assists: UW 60 (Maurer 51), CSU 58 (Courtney 51); Service Aces: UW 7, CSU 7; Digs: UW 40 (Tomasevic 12), CSU 52 (Sarauer 13); Team Blocks: UW 12, CSU 4.

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