Bruins Fall One Match Short Of Final Four

Dec. 9, 2000

MADISON, WI - And then there were four. For the first time in school history, the Wisconsin volleyball team will compete in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship - affectionately known as the Final Four. To advance, the fourth-ranked Badgers defeated 11th-ranked UCLA in front of 4,949 fans at the UW Field House Saturday night in a five game thrill ride, 15-7, 5-15, 16-14, 14-16, 15-12.

'This is just a gutsy performance by a team that has worked so hard all year,' coach Pete Waite said. 'It's just a real tribute to this team and how much they wanted it and what they were willing to do to get it. I'm just so proud of this team.'

The final statistics were close all around. UCLA held a slim advantage in kills 100-95, hitting percentage .231-.219, and digs 106-99, while the Badgers served up three aces to the Bruins' one service ace. The team block totals finished knotted at 14 apiece.

'It was a very exciting, intense match tonight,' UCLA coach Andy Banachowski said. 'We didn't like the outcome, but we enjoyed being a part of it. We wish them well.'

In Game 1, the Badgers took control early, getting out to an 8-2 lead. The closest the Bruins would get was 8-4, as UW was on its game and UCLA was just warming up. Warming up slowly cost UCLA the first game, 15-7, but in Game 2, they got hot.

The Bruins flew to a 10-0 advantage in Game 2. The Badgers put together a slight rally to gather five points, but UCLA simply dominated, hitting .525 percent and won 15-5.

'We started in a rotation that we hadn't done for a few weeks, but it worked well for us earlier. I don't know if UCLA was quite prepared for that. So, I think that helped in the first game,' Waite said. 'But obviously the second game came around and we were flat.'

After the break, the next three games would all be tight. In Game 3, the Bruins took a 4-0 lead, but the Badgers cut into it and eventually led 6-4. The score seesawed back and forth and was tied, 8-8 before the Bruins took a three-point lead at 12-9. The Badgers pulled to 12-12 and again the lead bobbled back and forth until UW took the game 16-14. In Game 3, the score was tied eight different times.

Game 4 mirrored Game 3. The Badgers started out well this time, jumping to a 5-0 lead. Kristee Porter led the Bruins, tallying 13 kills in the game, while Sherisa Livingston kept the Badgers in it, racking up 15 kills. UCLA battled to tie the game at nine after a 7-4 UW lead and again the game was a foray of ties and lead changes. The Badgers had match point at 14-12, but Elisabeth Bachman quieted the booming crowd and delayed the celebration with a kill and UCLA went on to win 16-14.

'The awesome crowd game us the energy continuously,' Waite said. 'Every time we were down, they just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. Had it not been here, I don't know if we could have gotten that done.'

In the rally-point scoring of Game 5, the lead-change tension of Games 3 and 4 remained. One point leads were scarce and two-point leads rare, as Game 5 remained virtually locked until the end. Tied at 12, Erin Byrd fired down two kills to give Wisconsin match point at 14-12. Off a block by Byrd and Livingston, the Badgers fell to the floor in jubilation, winning the match and advancing to the final four.

Livingston, who was named Mideast Regional MVP, led four other Badgers in double-figure kills with 31. Meggan Kohnen had 14 and Byrd chipped in with 12. Jenny Maastricht, who had 29 kills, had her 16th double-double of the season with 20 digs. Byrd led the Badgers with 23 digs and Lizzy Fitzgerald and Sara Urbanek dove for 13 digs apiece.

The Badgers face USC next week in the NCAA National Semifinal on Dec. 14 at Richmond, Va. The match is set for 8:30 p.m. EST. Nebraska faces Hawaii at 6 p.m. EST in the other semifinal for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship on Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m. EST.

Mideast Regional All-Tournament Team

Sherisa Livingston, MVP     WisconsinLizzy Fitzgerald            WisconsinKristee Porter              UCLAElisabeth Bachman           UCLADanielle Shinn              University of the PacificLiz Wegner                  Kansas State

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