Minnesota-Duluth 3, Northern Michigan 1

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MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - North Central Region Champion and fifth-ranked Minnesota-Duluth defeated Great Lakes Region and #11 Northern Michigan to advance to the NCAA Division II Womens Volleyball Final Four, hosted by Barry University. The Bulldogs won the match in four games by a score of 30-25, 30-26, 32-34, 30-24.

In game one, Minnesota-Duluth (27-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead that it would ultimately protect for the entire frame. Northern Michigan (24-7) pulled within one point at 22-21 late in the period but could never pull even as the Bulldogs took a 30-25 victory.

UNM opened game two with a 9-4 lead and things remained close from that point. UMD regained the lead at 13-12 for the first time since the opening points of the game. The teams battled evenly until UMD gave itself some breathing room at 24-20. The Bulldogs never looked back from there and won the game 30-26.

After an early 5-5 tie to start the third game, Northern Michigan darted out to a 12-6 advantage. Minnesota-Duluth made a run of its own with the Wildcats leading 18-13, scoring six consecutive points to take a 19-18 lead. After swapping points the rest of the way, with the scored gridlocked at 29-29, both squads failed to capitalize on opportunities to capture game point. Ultimately, a pair of attack errors by UMDs Callie Zwettler gave the Wildcats a 34-32 victory to extend the match.

UMD took an 11-5 lead in the early going of the fourth game, but UNM rallied to close the gap to 14-13 later in the stanza. The Bulldogs responded with a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 18-13, and Northern Michigan could never get any closer than three points as the Bulldogs claimed the game and the match victory.

"Im disappointed for the seniors," UNM coach Jim Moore said. "I felt these were the people that brought this program back to where it needs to be. It is back where it needs to be, its on track because of them. I think the most important thing in athletics is tribal law, what carries on from team to team. These seniors have set the tone. This match, these games are disappointing but Im thrilled that the program is back on the right track and Im very excited about that."

Zwettler led the UMD Bulldogs with 22 kills in the match. Allison Boddy tallied a team-high 21 digs, while Greta Iisakka amassed 65 assists. The Wildcats were led by Jennie Littles 15-kill performance. Liz Kohn registered a team-best 14 digs for UNM, and Brittany McGowan had 28 assists.

"We are really excited about being in the Final Four," said Zwettler. "Thats incredible for our team, first in the nationals, and in the Final Four. At the same time we still have a job to do; we have to come out strong tomorrow."

With its victory, Minnesota-Duluth advances to the Final Four, where it will face the winner of the Barry vs. Lock Haven match. The semifinal game is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 3, at Barry Universitys Health & Sports Center.

Short Box Score (Match)
Minnesota-Duluth def. Northern Michigan 30-25,30-26,32-34,30-24

Minnesota-Duluth (27-4)
(Kills-aces-blocks) - Callie Zwettler 22-0-0; Vicky Braegelmann 21-0-5; Rachel Langseth 14-0-4; Alicia Meger 7-2-5; Julie Lenci 6-0-1; Greta Iisakka 3-0-2; Danielle Beckstrand 2-1-1; Allison Boddy 1-0-0; Totals 76-3-9.0.
(Assists) - Greta Iisakka 65. (Dig leaders) - Allison Boddy 21; Callie Zwettler 16; Greta Iisakka 10; Danielle Beckstrand 9
Northern Michigan (24-7)
(Kills-aces-blocks) - Jennie Little 15-1-2; Holly Greenamyre 14-1-2; Aimee Dewitte 13-1-4; Andrea Smith 8-0-1; Ashley Kiel 8-0-2; Caryn VanBeckum 2-0-1; Beth Honaker 0-0-2; Totals 60-3-7.5.
(Assists) - Brittany McGowan 28; Kelli McCune 19. (Dig leaders) - Liz Kohn 14; Ashley Kiel 13; Aimee Dewitte 11

Site: Miami Shores, Fla. (Health&Sports Center)
Date: 12/02/04
Attend: 173 Time: 1:53
Referees: Gale House, Janice Matson, Mike Carter

--Courtesy Barry