Nov. 20, 2010

Wingate, N.C. -

Courtesy of Wingate Athletics

Wingate University senior middle blocker Rebecca Bloemer had 17 kills in 25 swings, for a .640 hitting percentage to lead the top-seeded Bulldogs past the University of Montevallo Falcons 3-1 in semifinal action of the 2010 NCAA Southeast Regionals. The 25th-ranked Bulldogs won by scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-21 to improve to 30-1 overall, advancing to the regional finals for the second straight year. Montevallo ends its season at 24-13 overall.

"This was definitely one of the most exciting and high-level matches we have ever had here at Wingate," head coach Shelton Collier says. "There was obviously a lot at stake, and Montevallo played awesome, so we had to elevate our game or otherwise our season would be over. Now we have another chance to play to go to the Elite Eight, which is very exciting."

Bloemer notched six kills in seven swings in the third set, while collecting eight kills in 13 swings in set four. Freshman outside hitter Cory McGowan (Pittsburgh, Pa.) added 12 kills and 18 digs, while senior outside hitter Lauren Billo (Orland Park, Ill.) chipped in with 11 kills. Senior middle blocker Stormi Gale (Richmond, Texas) had nine kills, 17 digs and six blocks for the Bulldogs. Junior setter Liz Willis (Raleigh, N.C.) had 31 assists and 10 digs, while junior libero Maggie Malone (Chicago, Ill.) collected 28 digs.

Sophomore middle hitter Virginia Clay (Fort Collins, Colo.) had 15 kills and five blocks, hitting .419 on the night. Senior outside hitter Kara Zawisza (Ann Arbor, Mich.) added 13 kills and 14 digs for the Falcons. Freshman middle hitter Many Ati (Lawrenceville, Ga.) had 13 kills, while senior outside hitter Rebecca Dowd (Dothan, Ala.) chipped in with 12 kills and 22 digs. Junior setter Anna Garrison (LaVergne, Tenn.) handed out 57 assists to go along with 18 digs, while junior libero Rachel Wotizky (Punta Gorda, Fla.) notched 26 digs.

Kills from Billo and McGowan gave Wingate a 12-9 lead in the opening set. The Falcons fought back, getting kills from Clay and Dowd to take a 15-14 advantage. Another Clay kill put Montevallo up 17-15. The Bulldogs scored five of the next six points to take a 20-18 lead. Billo got it started with back-to-back kills. The three-time All-SAC performer capped the spurt with a kill to give Wingate a two-point lead. The Falcons would not go away, cutting the lead to one at 23-22 on a kill from freshman middle hitter Michelle Carle (Sugar Land, Texas). The `Dogs claimed the opening set on back-to-back Montevallo errors.

The second frame stayed tight throughout, with 11 ties and three lead changes. A kill and two blocks from Gale gave Wingate a 13-10 lead. McGowan put the Bulldogs on top 17-13 with a kill. Back-to-back kills from Zawisza, along with an ace from Clay tied the set at 19. A kill from McGowan gave the Bulldogs a 22-21 lead. Kills from Ati and Carle put the Falcons ahead 23-22. Dowd and Clay combined on back-to-back blocks to give Montevallo the second set.

Kills from Bloemer and Gale, followed by a block from Gale and junior outside hitter Janice Ehorn (Orange, Conn.) gave Wingate a 16-12 lead in the third set. A kill from redshirt freshman middle blocker Anna Hilton (Hickory, N.C.) gave the `Dogs a 19-15 advantage. A block from Dowd and Clay, followed by a pair of Wingate errors cut the lead to 19-18. Kills from McGowan and Bloemer, along with a pair of Montevallo errors gave Wingate a 23-20 lead. Another Bloemer kill made it 24-21. Back-to-back Montevallo points made it 24-23. The Bulldogs went back to Bloemer, who put the third set away with a kill.

An Ati kill gave the Falcons a 14-12 lead in the fourth frame. Kills from Bloemer and sophomore middle blocker Grace Krauser (Louisville, Ky.) tied it at 14. The teams would trade points until Willis followed a Bloemer kill with an ace to give Wingate a 19-18 lead. Krauser and Bloemer followed with a block, while Bloemer sandwiched two more kills around another Willis ace to give the Bulldogs a 23-18 lead. Back-to-back Ati kills, along with a Wingate error cut the lead to two at 23-21. Wingate went back to the hot hand one final time, as the senior Bloemer slammed home two more kills to put the Bulldogs in the regional finals.

Wingate hit .235 for the match, with 59 kills and 16 errors in 183 attacks. Montevallo had 65 kills and 27 errors in 199 attacks for a hitting percentage of .191. Willis had two of Wingate's three aces on the night. The `Dogs racked up 12 blocks, led by Gale's six and Bloemer's four. Montevallo got five blocks from Clay and four from Dowd.

The Bulldogs and Saints meet in the regional title match for the second straight year. Flagler knocked off Wingate 3-1 in the 2009 regional championship match, on its way to the NCAA final four. The Bulldogs and Saints met twice in the regular season, with each team claiming one match.