Truman 3, Nebraska-Kearney 0



MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - The battle between the nations two top-ranked and only unbeaten teams failed to live up to its billing as #2 Truman advanced to the NCAA Division II Womens Volleyball Championship Game with a 30-22, 30-22, 30-28 sweep of #1 Nebraska-Kearney Friday afternoon at Barry Universitys Health & Sports Center.

Truman will face the winner of tonights second semifinal between host #3 Barry and #5 Minnesota-Duluth in the final tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.

"The game was exciting and surprising," said Truman head coach Qi Wang

"It was a great job by Truman," said Nebraska-Kearney head coach Rick Squires. They were effective in every phase of the game. They frustrated our defense. We didnt handle the ball like we would like, and we had a few more errors than we would have in other games. We tried to battle back and played more like ourselves in game three."

The Bulldogs (37-0) had four players with double-figures in kills and three with double-doubles, led by Sarah Shearmans match-high 19 kills and 10 digs and by Christine Wageners 31 assists and 17 digs. Jessica Sears also had a double-double of 14 kills and 12 digs while Caroline Clark added 16 kills and four blocks. Libero Lauren Dickbernd, one of four Truman players with double-digit digs, collected 17 of the Bulldogs 72 total digs, limiting the Loper offense to just 48 kills on a .212 hitting percentage.

"We are trained to keep calm and that helped today," said Shearman. "It was a tough match the whole time. Today we had more emotion than we did yesterday and that was to our advantage."

Nebraska-Kearney (40-1) was led by Erin Gudmundsons team-high 18 kills and match-highs of .457 hitting and five blocks. The Lopers also received a double-double from Erin Arnold, who finished with 14 kills and 10 digs. Samantha Danner and Mikala Gleason led the UNK defensive effort with 14 and 13 digs, respectively.

Truman jumped out on top with a 30-22 win in game one, marking just the first time all season that the Lopers dropped the opening game of a match. With the scored knotted at 19 apiece, the Bulldogs won 11 of the final 14 points thanks to five kills from Shearman, who finished the game with seven. Wagener had game-highs of 13 assists and nine digs, while Clark added six kills with no errors on nine attacks for the Bulldogs, which out-hit UNK .388 to .135.

The Bulldogs went up 2-0 in the match with another 30-22 victory. The game was much more closely contested throughout but Truman ran out six of the final seven points to win the game. Wagener collected her double-double early, accumulating 11 assists and eight digs in the game. The Bulldog attack was balanced with Sears, Shearman and Clark tallying five kills each. The Lopers were led by Gudmundsons six kills and Gleasons six digs.

Truman looked to be running away with the third game having built an eight-point lead at 15-7. Nebraska-Kearney did not go down quietly, however, and eventually went back on top at 25-24 its first lead since a 3-2 advantage early on.

"If they had won the third game, it was going to be a whole different match," said Sears about the third game. "It was a tough match, they worked hard."

The Bulldogs kept their composure and won the final two points on an ace by Sears and a kill by Shearman to claim a 30-28 victory. Gudmundson pounded a game-high eight kills with a .500 clip in the comeback effort for the Lopers, which held a .314-.258 hitting advantage in the game, while Truman was led by Shearmans seven kills.

"We didnt want to lose," said Gudmundson. "We started to play better in the third game but we just couldnt finish it off."

--Courtesy Barry