Nov. 19, 2010

Courtesy of Cal State San Bernardino Athletics

SAN BERNARDINO - The habit of playing postseason volleyball has become an enviable one for the Cal State San Bernardino volleyball team.

For the 11th straight year, the Coyotes will play for the right to advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight as they defeated rival UC San Diego 3-0 in the NCAA West Regional semifinals Friday night at Coussoulis Arena.

The 25-14, 25-11, 25-23 victory was CSUSB's 14th straight and it will go for No. 15 against Seattle Pacific (26-2) in the regional finale at 7 p.m. Saturday. The winner will advance to the national championships Dec. 2-4 in Louisville, Ky.

The victory over the Tritons (19-9) was a dominant one as the Coyotes, now 27-2, had 20 block assists through two sets and fired a .330 attack percentage for their second win in a week over UCSD.

"We were very disciplined in the first two sets,'' said head coach Kim Cherniss. "I am real proud of the way we played tonight. Yes, we were a little more familiar with their tendencies and what they do on their side of the net because we just played them the week before.

Across the board, the Coyotes were a model of efficiency as senior Nicole Moore led with 10 kills. Senior All-American Jane Chafeh had nine kills, while junior All-American Samantha Middleborn and fellow juniors Megan Johnson and Morgan Carty each had seven kills with just one attack error apiece.

Johnson had seven block assists and Moore had five.

CSUSB got rolling in the opening set. Trailing 6-4, Moore got a rally going with a kill and the Coyotes pushed their lead with four Triton attack errors and CSUSB led 10-6 and never looked back.

Set two was much the same as the Coyotes, who led 14-10, utilized a 9-0 run to comfortably remain in control. Three straight kills from Johnson were vital, and again, CSUSB took advantage of three consecutive Triton attack errors to push ahead 21-10.

The Coyotes seemed to be in complete control in the late going in set three, but the Tritons mustered a rally and got back into the set.

Ahead 19-14, UCSD scored seven unanswered points to take a 21-19 lead.

Carty got the Coyotes going with a kill and Chafeh got a kill of her own on an assist from Carty and the set was tied at 21-21.

The match was tied at 22 and 23 before the Coyotes finished the night on a kill from Middleborn and won on an attack error from Hillary Williamson.

"It seems more exciting to be a part of this team this year,'' Middleborn said. "We have focused so hard on so many points of the game that we are just hungry to get another shot at the (National) championship.''

CSUSB will be gunning for its fifth Elite Eight in the last eight years and its third consecutive trip.

"We're competing for a national championship,'' Cherniss said. "That's always been our goal. Seattle Pacific is very good. They have a good middle (Nikki Lowell) and they are pretty solid defensively. They are very confident with their system.''