Volleyball Eclipses UNI to Reach NCAA Elite Eight

Dec. 13, 2002

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Washington State University volleyball team defeated the highest seeded team in the East Regional semi-finals, University of Northern Iowa, Friday afternoon to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Div. I Women's Volleyball Championship tournament.

Washington State, seeded 12th in the East Region, upset fourth-seed Northern Iowa 31-29, 30-21, 30-21, at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on the University of Florida campus.

The Cougars, riding an eight-match win streak, now have a record of 24-7, while Northern Iowa ends it season at 34-3.

'Well, I think we're a little bit shocked,' WSU Head Coach Cindy Fredrick said. 'I don't think we anticipated this to be a three-game match. We've seen UNI and they're an awesome team. It's gratifying to me because our kids blocked so well and played so well. I can now go back to my home state of Iowa. My mom lives 13 miles from Northern Iowa and all I hear about was, 'I don't think you can beat UNI.' We kind of thought we could. We knew it would be a battle, but our serving carried us tremendously and kept UNI from running their offense like they normally do. I'm pleased with our middle hitters.'

LaToya Harris, celebrating her 22nd birthday, led the match with 16 kills (.438). Victoria Prince had a match-high six blocks with six kills while Adrian Hankoff had eight kills and five blocks. Kortney Jamtaas had nine digs while Brenn Larson had 39 assists. WSU out-blocked the Panthers nine to eight.

Molly O'Brien's 12 kills and Kim Kester's 10 kills led UNI offensively. Michelle Burvee had 10 digs and five blocks.

'I'd like to give Washington State at lot of credit,' UNI Head Coach Bobbi Petersen said. 'They played a great match tonight. I definitely think it came down to defense and ball control and Washington State definitely had that.'

Northern Iowa jumped out to a 17-11 lead in the first game but Washington State out-scored the Panthers 10 to four to tie the game at 21 points. The squads traded points until UNI rattled off a trio for a 25-22 lead. The Cougars rallied to out-score UNI five to two and knot the game at 27. UNI and WSU traded kills to tied it up at 28. Michelle Burvee hit long putting the Cougars at game point and the Panthers took at timeout. Kester came back with a kill but LaToya Harris skied and answered with her sixth kill of the opener and the Cougars were at game point again. Molly O'Brien hit into the net on the last play and Washington State won the first game, 31-29.

WSU took a 12-9 lead in the second and extended their lead to 22-15. UNI only laced three in row to come within six of the Cougs, 26-20. WSU finished with a 30-22 win as the Panthers hit a mere .100 and the Cougars hit .256 for this game and out-blocked UNI four to one.

The purple Panthers ran off four straight points for an early nine-all tie. The Cougars answered with an 13-four run and the 22-13 lead. Washington State never looked back, capturing the third game 30-21, for the three-game sweep.

This is the second time Washington State has advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Volleyball Championship, the previous being in 1996, when the Cougars, led by All-American Sarah Silvernail, lost to Stanford on its home court in the Pacific Regional final, 3-0.

Three other Pac-10 teams are already in the Eilite Eight - USC, Stanford and Arizona - with Stanford and Arizona playing Friday night for the Final Four berth.

Washington State plays Florida (33-2), a 30-15, 30-27, 30-14, winner over Temple in the East Region semi-final. The Cougar - Gator winner will advance to the Final Four at New Orleans, Dec. 19, 21. Florida is a number five seed in the NCAA Championship Tournament this year.

Northern Iowa (34-2)	29	21	21Washington State (23-7)	31	30	30STATISTICS:KILLS - UNI 45 (O'Brien 12), WSU 49 (L. Harris 16)HITTING PERCENTAGE - UNI .117, WSU .206ASSISTS - UNI 42 (Arganbright 38), WSU 43 (Larson 39)DIGS - UNI 48 (Burvee 10), WSU 41 (Jamtaas 9)BLOCKS - UNI 8 (Burvee 5), WSU 9 (Prince 6)SERVICE ACES - UNI 1 (Burvee 1), WSU 2 (Hankoff, L. Harris 1 each)Attendance:  tba
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