Dec. 4, 2008

Courtesy of Concordia-St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Truman State University (33-7), ranked #8 in the NCAA Division II, took a 3-0 win over Nova Southeastern (24-12) to advance to the 2008 NCAA Division II Championship semifinals (25-21, 25-20, 25-20).  The Bulldogs are matched up with Cal State San Bernardino with a start time of 5:00 pm (CT) on Friday evening at the Gangelhoff Center.

Truman State had to overcome a number of Nova Southeastern runs in the quarterfinal match.  The Sharks started things off with five straight points before Truman ripped off a 17-3 run for a sizeable 17-8 lead.   But NSU did not fold easily and came back with ten of the next 12 points to set the score at 19-18.  Truman finished off the first set with a 25-21 win and dictated the tone of the remainder of the match.

Both teams improved their hitting in the second set, but Truman took the edge after committing a few less errors in the front row and also putting up three ace serves.  They finished the match with a .138 hitting average, while NSU swung for a mere .045.  TSU had 60 digs to NSU's 51 and also edged out the Sharks with nine team blocks to eight.

Nova Southeastern's Melinda Gorman, a senior outside hitter, was the only player in the match to tally double figures in kills with 13.  She also had seven digs and three block assists.  Emily Carle and Valia Petrova had the next highest hitting marks with four kills each.  Sophomore Kathleen Yony led the team with 16 digs.  Molly Sigerich boosted the Shark blocking game with five assists.  Valia Petrova assisted on 25 of the team's 32 kills.

Senior outside hitter Eli Medina had a team high eight kills for the Bulldogs.  She was also the team dig leader with 16 saves.  Lisa Weber came in with seven kills, five block assists and five digs.  Whitney Boehler had 13 digs, followed by Dana Hanselmann with ten.  The setting game was split between Kylie Easlon and Ashley Petak with 17 and 13 assists each, respectively.

Truman State: Improve to 33-7 overall ... TSU's third National Semifinal appearance ... National runners-up in 2002 and 2004 ... reached the National Championship in both National Semifinal appearances

Nova Southeastern: This was Nova Southeastern's second consecutive NCAA appearance and first Elite Eight appearance ... The Sharks are now 4-2 in NCAA Championship play ... Nova Southeastern lost the first set in each of its last three matches ... This was the Sharks' first match outside the state of Florida since playing at Harding University, Sept. 12-13 ... NSU was 6-3 outside Florida this season ... The Sharks' were 10-8 versus teams in this year's NCAA Championship field ... NSU finishes 4-5 versus ranked opponents and 5-7 when losing the first set ... They were 11-4 in three-set matches.

Head Coach Jason Skoch:
Opening Statement: "We won, that's the most important thing. We played timid and hesitant, which was disappointing with the playoff experience we have on our team. Nova is a very good and scrappy team. They have a way of making their opponents look bad, and that's what they did to us today. Nova did a great job of throwing
us off guard...overall Nova did a good job. We won, we need to learn from this and get our nerves out."

In regards to 0-5 start in first set: "All season I've let the players make decisions. After going down 0-5, I asked the players if they wanted a timeout and they said no. The team knows what's going on."

Importance of first set win: "It was very important and  big for us to come back and get the win in the first set. Nova isn't known for winning three straight sets in a match. They are known for rallying and coming back in matches. To win three straight matches was great for us against Nova."

In regards to setter (Kylie Easlon): "She can do a lot better. She played great defensively, but we weren't connecting with the middles. Kylie never plays two bad matches in a row, so tomorrow will be better.

In regards to All-American Melissa Keck with just four kills and four errors: "She'll be ready tomorrow. She just needs to take care of herself. She's a slow starter in general and she needs to have a killer mind set, along with the rest of the team."

In regards to playing Cal State tomorrow: "We need to block better. Cal State has strong hitters and most likely it will turn into a defensive match."

Quote: "We'll take 'winning ugly' tomorrow."

Senior outside hitter Eli Medina:
In regards to her play today: "I'm a senior. I was here as a freshman and I know now that you have to play hard every point."

Feeling of being at the Elite Eight: "I know now to savor every moment. A player never knows when they'll make it back to the NCAA Championships. As a senior leader, I need to play my best and help my teammates play their best. It all comes down to winning."

Senior middle blocker Allie Cherven:
In regards to Nova's comeback: "Our team really needs to concentrate on forgetting our errors and focussing on the next point."

Feeling of being at the Elite Eight: "This has been the most amazing experience making it to the Elite Eight, I'm speechless. To be around these amazing athletes and to be a part of it all...I love it."

Head Coach Steve Wilcosky:
Opening Statement: "On not being able to get any extended scoring runs -- "The good thing about Truman State is they side out pretty quickly. There were a few times when I felt we had to get on a run and they stopped us pretty quickly. Some of their older athletes understand the importance of stopping those runs and they never let us get going today."

On his team's game plan: "We tried to get them out of system (with our) serving. We felt if we could get them to set the ball behind the three-meter line they wouldn't be able to set their middle. We didn't serve as aggressive as we can. We played a little more conservatively today. We were too passive serving."

Senior outside hitter Melinda Gorman:
On how far the NSU program has come during her four years: "Starting off my freshman year, we went 4-19, were last in the conference and only won one conference game. The five seniors on this team have made some tradions and set a standard for others to follow."

On how Truman State played her when she was in the back row: "They served me quite a bit but I'm used to that. They got some aces off of me but I like being served and being involved. I think I held my own."

On her first experience at the Elite Eight: "It's an amazing feeling being her for the first time. It's not like a conference game where you don't like the people you're playing. All of these girls are great. They say 'good luck' and treat everyone really well. The experience and environment are a once in lifetime thing and I'm glad I could be part of it."