Nov. 19, 2009

* Courtesy of Pittsburg State Athletics

The Pittsburg State volleyball team (25-10) upset fourth-seeded Emporia State (29-6), 3-1 (25-15, 16-25, 25-12, 25-23) to advance to the second round of the NCAA South Central Regional on Thursday (Nov. 19) evening at the UCM Multipurpose Building in Warrensburg, Mo.

The key to Pitt State's win was its defense. The Gorillas outblocked the Hornets 11.0 to 4.0. The Gorillas also hit at a slightly better clip, .289 to .233. Emporia State led the Gorillas in kills and digs.

"Our blocking was key," said head coach Ibraheem Suberu. "Arica Shepard was excellent for Emporia State and Brittney Miller was consistent in the front row. Our blockers had to touch a lot of balls in order for us to win. They were outstanding tonight. The energy from our team was positive and they communicated well. We have not been to the second round in several years, but this team has a good conscious, heart and makes changes easily. That helped us to get to this point."

Sophomore Corrinne Stringer led the Gorillas with 15 kills. She hit .368 on the night as she had only one error in 38 attempts. She added 13 digs for a double-double and led the team with six blocks. Senior Pamela Cartagena also recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs. Her third kill in the fourth set was the 1,826th of her career to set a new school record for career kills. Cartagena also had one solo block and one block assist. Freshman Brooke Fay finished the match with 12 kills. Junior Cassie Wilson led the Gorillas with 16 digs. She also added three blocks. Junior Molly Bergkamp was second on the team with five blocks. Senior setter Emily Vosseler finished the match with 39 assists.

Emporia State's Arica Shepard led all players with 19 kills and also added 18 digs for a double-double. Brittney Miller was the only other Hornet recording double figure kills with 18. Amy Byfield led all players with 26 digs.

Pitt State won the first match convincingly, 25-15. The Gorillas scored the first point of the match and allowed Emporia State to tie the set at 1-1 and 2-2, but never looked back. The Gorillas built up a 8-2 advantage on Emily Vosseler's serve, supported by three straight kills by Fay. Pitt State never allowed back-to-back points by the Hornets in the set.

The second set was the opposite with Emporia State dominating with a 25-16 win. The Gorillas did work to come back in the match, as they trailed 19-8, but battled back on Molly Bergkamp's serve to put Pitt State within six. PSU was not able to close the gap any further, allowing ESU to tie the match at one set a piece.

Set three was a return to the first set for the Gorillas. The Hornets hung close early in the match, but key kills by Fay and Bergkamp and a huge block by Bergkamp and Vosseler helped Pitt State pull ahead. Cartagena served the last five points of the set as Stringer ended the set with a kill and a block to give the Gorillas the 2-1 advantage in the match.

The fourth set was tight the entire way. There were five ties and two lead changes in the set Pitt State took an early 4-0 lead, but the Hornets fought back to tie the game at 7-7, then take a 11-7 advantage. It was then the Gorillas turn to fight as they came back to tie the game at 15, 16, 17 and 18 before finally taking a 19-18 lead on a Fay kill. Emporia State tied the game again at 21 and 22, but never regained the lead. Cartagena finished the match with a kill for the 25-23 victory.

The Gorillas will now face top-seeded Central Missouri on Friday (Nov. 20) at 8:30 p.m. The two teams split the series in the regular season with Pitt State winning in Warrensburg, 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-22), and Central Missouri winning in Pittsburg, 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-14).