Nov. 20, 2008

WEST HAVEN, Conn. - Behind sophomore Ivana Kovacevic-Jurasin (Belgrade, Serbia), the sixth-seeded University of Bridgeport eliminated the third-seeded Falcons in four sets Thursday afternoon in the opening quarterfinal match at the University of New Haven. Scores were 25-22, 22-25, 25-20 and 26-24.

Bentley, which had posted a pair of three-set sweeps over the Purple Knights back in September, finished its season at 21-12. Bridgeport improved to 28-13 and advances to Friday's regional semis.

Kovacevic-Jurasin, one of four Purple Knights who reached double-figures in kills, paced Bridgeport with 18 kills, 19 digs and three blocks.

In the opening set, Bentley fell behind 15-9, but twice battled back to tie, 15-15 and again at 21-all. However, Bridgeport closed with a 4-1 spurt, finishing the set with an ace from junior JJ Edwards (Georgetown, Ont.).

The Falcons had the fast start in the second set, scoring eight of the first ten points en route to a 14-5 advantage. Bridgeport eventually closed to within one at 23-22, but two Purple Knight attack errors finished the set and evened the match at one apiece.

Bentley managed only seven kills in the third set, and after holding a 12-11 lead, fell behind 23-15. A 5-1 spurt closed the deficit to four, but a kill by junior Emma Ariyo (Kampala, Uganda) provided the set point.

For a while, it looked like Bentley would force a decisive fifth set after using five straight points to grab an 18-15 lead. However, eight of the next nine were recorded by Bridgeport, resulting in a 24-20 advantage.

Four straight points by the Falcons knotted the score at 24, but an attack error and a kill by junior Olga Sidorova (Ekaterinburg, Russia) gave Bridgeport a win in its first-ever NCAA tournament match and put an end to the Bentley season.

Junior Kristine Mickelson (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS) had a strong game for Bentley, with 12 kills and seven blocks. Classmate Alex Kearney (La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla HS) followed with 11 kills and 10 digs, and sophomore Alaura Berry (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo HS) tallied eight kills and six blocks. Junior libero Cassie Kraft (New Braunfels, Texas/St. Mary's Hall) made 25 kills and her sophomore sister Maitlyn finished with 13 kills and Bentley's only two aces.

Setter Tori Piskulick (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS), the only senior amongst Bentley's top ten, closed out her career with 22 assists, boosting her school record total to 4,604.

In addition to Kovacevic-Jurasin, Siderova (12 kills, 19 digs) junior Juliana Moraes (Rio de Janiero, Brazil) (11 kills, 12 digs) and setter Milica Micovic (45 assists, 10 digs) had double-doubles for Bridgeport.

Bridgeport finished with 61 kills, 15 more than the Falcons, and Bentley hurt itself with nine service errors, including four in the first set.