Nov. 18, 2010

Courtesy of Western Washington

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.
- Outside hitter Megan Amundson (Sr., Stanwood) had a match-high 15 kills on .394 hitting and middle blocker Emily Jepsen (Jr., Kennewick/Kamiakin) and outside hitter Marlayna Geary (So., Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) added 13 kills each as the Western Washington University volleyball team defeated University of Alaska Anchorage, 26-24, 25-12, 20-25, 25-20, to open Thursday's opening round of the NCAA Division II West Regional at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of host Cal State San Bernardino.

The Vikings, the No.3 seed, improved to 20-3 and advanced to a Friday semifinal at 5 p.m. where they will meet the winner of the Seattle Pacific vs. Cal State L.A. match.

UAA, the No.6 seed, ended its season at 18-9. The Seawolves were led by Jackie Matthisen, who had 11 kills and 11 digs.

"I was really proud of them for coming back," said Western coach Diane Flick (11th year, 233-63). "I think we got kind of shell shocked in the third set, and could easily have faltered, but they did a good job of becoming the aggressor again."

"Marlayna (Geary) and Emily (Jepsen) jump so well and hit at such high points, and Megan (Amundson) can move the ball around like nobody I've ever coached before. With that combination it's very hard for a team to defend against us."

Amundson, who made just two errors in 33 attempts for Western, also had six digs, three blocks, three assists and two service aces.

"She was a steady force for us," Flick said. "It seemed like every time she touched the ball, we knew something good was going to happen."

Set one had nine ties before the Vikings scored five straight points, three on aces by Haleigh Adkins (Jr., Puyallup/Rogers), for a 14-9 lead. UAA came back to tie the set at 24-all, before a Geary kill and an attack error gave Western a 1-0 lead.

With the score tied at 5-5 in the second set, the Vikings took six consecutive points, Amundson serving two aces, in a 9-1 run that gave them a 14-6 lead. The set ended on a kill by Geary and a service ace by back-up setter Laurie Yearout (So., Spokane/Lewis & Clark), giving Western a 2-0 advantage.

In set three, the Vikings led 15-12 before Alaska Anchorage rallied to score 13 of the last 18 points and pull within one, 2-1.

Trailing 12-8 in the fourth set, Western scored six straight points to take a 14-12 lead. Ahead 20-17, the Vikings closed out the match with Geary scoring four of their last five points on kills.

Jepsen, the GNAC Player of the Year, paced Western with six blocks. Libero Allison Gotz (Sr., Bothell/Archbishop Murphy) had 14 digs and setter Kari Rice (Sr., Toppenish/Eisenhower) had 47 assists, both match highs. Gotz entered the match ranked No.15 nationally in digs (5.44) and Rice No.16 in assists (10.94).

The Vikings finished with a .215 hitting percentage, while holding UAA to .153.

Western is making its first post-season appearance since 2007 when the Vikings won the regional title and reached the national championship match.

It is the sixth trip to the NCAA national tournament for Western, all of them coming during the 11-year tenure of coach Diane Flick (233-63).