Nebraska-Kearney 3, Cal State-San Bernardino 1



MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - Nebraska-Kearney, the top-ranked team in the nation and the Southwest Region Champion, posted a 30-24, 30-27, 22-30, 30-24 victory over Pacific Region Champion Cal State-San Bernardino to advance to the NCAA Division II Womens Volleyball Final Four, hosted by Barry University.

"I think it was the kind of match we thought it might be, it was hard fought," UNK coach Rick Squires said. "Their All-American and the player-of-the-year (Brianna Harris) lived up to her billing. We just took advantage of the few opportunities that came along to get a gap and get off to a good start in game one--that was big."

With the Lopers holding a slight 8-7 edge in the opening game, UNK (40-0) reeled off six straight points to soften its cushion at 14-7. The Lopers maintained at least a four point lead down the stretch, and later in the frame, CSUSB (27-4) got as close as 26-22. That was as close as the Coyotes would get, nevertheless, and UNK took the opening game by a score of 30-24. Erin Brosz paced the Lopers with six kills in the game.

Game two was a close one, as neither team was able to gain any sizable advantage and there were a number of tied points. With the score knotted at 24-24, UNK pulled ahead 27-24. The Lopers protected their lead and held on for a 30-27 victory. Brosz again notched six kills to lead the UNK offensive attack, as did the Coyotes Brianna Harris, who also had six kills.

The Coyotes came out on fire in game three and stormed to a 14-5 lead that they would never relinquish. UNK could get no closer than seven points down the stretch, and CSUSB claimed a 30-22 victory to extend the match. Harris was stellar for the Coyotes, chalking seven kills with a .545 attack percentage in the frame. The loss marked only the sixth game of the season that UNK had lost.

Game four was a game of runs by both squads. The teams played within a couple of points of one another until the Lopers went ahead 12-5. The Coyotes roared back to pull to within 13-12, then tied the score at 15-15. The game was a nip-and-tuck affair for a time until, with the score knotted at 18-18, UNK exploded for 10 of the next 12 points to take a 28-20 lead. A kill by the Lopers Erin Arnold gave UNK match point at 29-21, but CSUSB fought back to close the gap to 29-24. Another Arnold kill sealed the victory for UNK, giving them the match with a 30-24 win in the final frame. Arnold came up huge for the Lopers in the final game, tallying 11 kills with a .474 hitting percentage. Harris had nine kills for the Coyotes.

"Congratulations to Nebraska-Kearney, they played an excellent volleyball game tonight," said CSUSB coach Kim Cherniss. "They were clearly in control of what they were doing on their side of the net. We just never seem to get in the system. We fought pretty hard and we executed well in game three. We played the type of match that we are capable of in game three. They made some nice adjustments and rotated their line up."

Arnold concluded the match as Nebraska-Kearneys leader with 23 kills and 25 digs. Harris led CSUSB with 25 kills and 16 digs. Bethany Spilde racked up 61 assists for the victors, while Cristen Trent recorded 56 assists for the Coyotes.

UNK advances to the Final Four, where they will face #2 Truman in a showdown of the nations top two teams. The match will be played at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 3, at Barry Universitys Health & Sports Center.

Short Box Score (Match)

Nebraska-Kearney def. CS San Bernardino

CS San Bernardino (27-4)
(Kills-aces-blocks) - HARRIS, Brianna 25-1-4; DRAWN, Sharea 13-0-7; PRICE, Cathleen 13-0-3; HATCH, Katherine 10-0-1; TRENT, Cristen 4-1-4; DOGONYARO, Lisa 3-0-1; LONG, Amy 2-1-0; NELTHORPE, Jessica 0-1-0;
Totals 70-4-12.0.
(Assists) - TRENT, Cristen 56. (Dig leaders) - HARRIS, Brianna 16; HERNANDEZ, Yvette 15; PRICE, Cathleen 13; NELTHORPE, Jessica 10

Nebraska-Kearney (40-0) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Erin Arnold 23-0-1; Erin Brosz 20-0-2; Erin Gudmundson 16-1-5; Kelli Bunger 7-0-1; Ashley Solt 3-0-1; Bethany Spilde 3-1-1; Samantha Harvey 2-2-3; Alison Glidden 1-0-0; Brett McCurdy 1-0-0; Mikala Gleason 0-1-0; Totals 76-5-8.0.
(Assists) - Bethany Spilde 61. (Dig leaders) - Erin Arnold 25; Mikala Gleason 14; Bethany Spilde 10; Steph Hoemann 9
Site: Miami Shores, Fla. (Health&Sports Center)
Date: 12/02/04 Attend: 441 Time: 1:51
Referees: Mike Carter, Marsha Rupert, Janice Matson

--Courtesy Barry