SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Cal State San Bernardino’s opponent Friday night, BYU-Hawaii, featured 11 underclassmen and eight freshmen and certainly may be a team of the future.
But the top-ranked Coyotes were built with this season in mind and coach Kim Cherniss’ senior class paved the way in a 3-1 NCAA West regional semifinal win against the Seasiders before a crowd of 609 at Coussoulis Arena.
Led by reigning National Player of the Year Samantha Middleborn’s 17 kills and .593 attack percentage, the Coyotes improved their home-court winning streak to 63 consecutive and improved the season record to 29-0 with the 25-22, 25-17, 25-27, 25-20 victory.
They also advanced to the regional final for their 12th consecutive year and aim for their fourth consecutive regional final Saturday night against fellow CCAA member Sonoma State. First serve is scheduled for 10 p.m ET.
“That was a fantastic match tonight and we were challenged, no question about it,” Cherniss said. “We played well defensively. When Morgan Carty, an outside hitter leads with 19 digs, I’d love to find another 6-1 outsider who can do that. Really.”
Senior MB Megan Johnson performed another solid outing with 14 kils and a .429 percentage as the Coyotes threw down a .301 effort on the attack with 60 kills, just 14 errors in 153 total attacks.
CSUSB enjoyed a 2-0 lead, but BYUH would not allow a sweep to occur. In the third set, the Seasiders held a 20-17 lead before the Coyotes came back with three consecutive points — a block from Middleborn, a kill from Johnson and a block from junior All-American setter Camille Smith and the set was tied at 20-20.
The set was tied at 21 and 22 until a kill and an ace put BYUH up 24-22.
After the Coyotes took a timeout, Carty earned a kill and a block from sophomore Danielle Newcombe tied the set at 24-all. Newcombed then gave the Coyotes the one-point lead on a kill. After a BYUH timeout, they strung together three sraight points and forced a fourth-set.
In the fourth set was tied at 16-16, the Coyotes pushed ahead with a three-point run — two kills from senior Priscilla Collings that were sandwiched around an attack error.
The Coyotes stayed out front and finished the set with three consecutive attack errors for the 25-20 final set win.
Senior libero Kelcie Tolan had 11 digs on the night and Smith finished with 50 assists, two solo blocks and two block assists.