Volleyball Falls To Eastern Washington In Five Games In NCAA Action
Nov. 30, 2001
PULLMAN, Wash. - Gina Schmidt had match-highs of 25 kills and 23 digs, but the Oregon State volleyball team lost a heartbreaking five-game match to Eastern Washington in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Championships at Washington State on Friday. Game scores were 33-31, 19-30, 30-28, 23-30 and 15-10.
OSU was making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 18 years and just the second in program history. The Beavers, who finished the season 17-12, put together OSU's first winning season in five years to advance to the tournament. EWU improved to 21-5.
'I'm really so proud of this team. They gave it everything they had,' said coach Nancy Somera. 'They competed with all their heart, and that's all a coach can ask. Eastern Washington just did it a tiny bit better than we did tonight.'
It was a match of comebacks, rallies and ties all night, with the match taking two hours and 24 minutes to complete.
OSU started off slow, falling behind 9-3 in the first game but closed to within three points at 18-15. The Beavers then went on an eight-point rally , sparked in part by three kills from Schmidt, to go up 23-18, but the Eagles returned the favor with a rally of their own to eventually tie the game at 25-25. After six more ties, the Eagles finally came away with the 33-31 victory when a Monica Lynch kill and a Schmidt hitting error gave EWU back-to-back points.
Game two was tied seven times, the last at the 11-11 mark, before a Katrina Nelson kill gave OSU the lead for the rest of the game. After hitting just .151 in the first game, the Beaver offense came alive to hit .400 with 17 kills and just one error in game two. Schmidt and Megan McMillan combined for 11 of OSU's 17 kills in the second game, with the duo hitting .579 for the game.
OSU overcame an 11-point deficit (down 22-11) in game three to tie things up at 23-23 and then take a one-point lead on Amanda Eggert's kill. The game would be tied five more times before the Eagles scored twice on a Jessica Papell service error and an EWU kill.
'That (comeback) reflects this heart of this team. We got to the tournament for the first time since 1983 because we fought like that all season. To give yourself an opportunity to win that game when you're down 22-11... I'm just so proud to be this team's coach tonight,' Somera said.
It was another close contest in the fourth game, with the teams tied another seven times until OSU's six-point rally erased a 21-21 tie to give the Beavers the lead and eventually the game to keep the season alive for another game.
Michele Solomon's kill to start game five gave the Beavers the early lead in the deciding game, but that would be OSU's only advantage as the Eagles scored three straight and kept the lead for the remainder of the match. Down 13-8, the Beavers tried one last time for a comeback, scoring two points - one of Schmidt's final kill of her career and another on an EWU error - to close within three, but the Eagles responded with a kill and an ace to advance to Saturday's second round match.
OSU finished the match with a season-high 115 digs, led by Schmidt's season-high 23, as the Beavers outdug the Eagles, who had 109 digs. McMillan added 21 for her third 20-plus match of the year, while Laura Collins chipped in a career-high 20. Nikki Neuburger (18) and Papell (12) also finished with double figures.
The Beavers came out on top offensively as well. OSU hit .210 with 81 kills to EWU's .171 and 72. Joining Schmidt with double figures were McMillan, who hit .300 with a career-high 14 kills to finish with a double-double, and Solomon, who had 12. Solomon also led the Beavers at the net with seven blocks, but the Eagles outblocked OSU, 14-10.
The Eagles were led by Robyn Felder's 23 kills and nine blocks, while Janelle Ruen finished with 14 kills and 20 digs.
Eastern Washington (21-5) 33 19 30 23 15Oregon State (17-12) 31 30 28 30 10