SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Keala Peterson slammed home a season-high 22 kills on Friday as Sonoma State defeated UC San Diego 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. With the win, the Seawolves advance to the third round for the first time in school history.
The 23rd-ranked and third-seeded Seawolves downed the 15th-ranked and second-seeded Tritons by scores of 25-12, 25-17, 16-25, 25-20 to improve to 23-6 on the season. The Tritons conclude their campaign at 22-6.
Friday’s match was not just a huge match in the NCAA tournament, it was also the rubber match for the Seawolves and Tritons, who had split the season series. On paper, everything looked about as even as it could. However, once the match started, it was a different story.
The Seawolves came out on fire in the first set, storming to a 6-1 lead. They didn’t let off the gas from there, building the advantage to as many as 13 at 20-7 and effectively cruising to a 1-0 lead.
Set two was much of the same as the Seawolves led 6-1 before the Tritons pulled on them and got within three at 13-10. Three consecutive points gave the Seawolves a little cushion and they were able to push on for the 25-17 victory.
Up 2-0, the Seawolves’ easy road to the third round was blocked in the third. Trailing by just three at 17-14, the Seawolves saw the Tritons go on a 7-0 run to earn some breathing room, and eventually the win.
Desperate not to go to a fifth set, the Seawolves would not trail in the fourth. However, that’s a little deceptive as the entire frame was close, with the Tritons staying within three until late. With the score 18-17 Sonoma State, back-to-back kills from Peterson and Brooke Moore sent the Tritons into a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Seawolves continued to pressure UC San Diego, building the lead to six at 23-17. After a kill by Peterson put the Seawolves on match point, the Sebastpol native ended it with a service ace into the back right corner of the court.
Peterson’s huge night comes on the heels of a 21-kill performance on Thursday against Hawaii-Hilo. She hit .353 for in the match thanks to just four errors in 51 attempts. Peterson also added 17 digs and a pair of blocks.
Ally Sather had 11 kills and Kelsey Hull contributed 10 as the Seawolves hit .237 on the night. Hayley Ross was very sharp all night, posting 45 assists, and Taylor Krenwinkel was tops with 23 digs.
UC San Diego got 16 kills from Hillary Williamson, but the rest of their offense was neutralized. No one else had more than six.