Dec. 5, 2008

Courtesy of Western Michigan Athletics

DAYTON, Ohio -- A diverse offense and stifling defense led Western Michigan past host Dayton 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-18 in front of 1,674 partial fans in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament at the Frericks Center on Friday night. The Broncos will play No. 16 Tulane (28-5) in the second round on Saturday at 6 p.m. Live stats and free video available at DaytonFlyers.com.

The Broncos (27-6) got a pair of double-doubles from junior Katie Eberling (15 kills, 14 digs) and sophomore Allyson Doyle (15 kills, 17 digs) to get past the Flyers (21-13) for the first NCAA Tournament win for WMU since beating Oklahoma in 1987 and the sixth in school history.

MAC Setter of the Year Jillian Mitchell led the Bronco offense with a match-high 53 assists, seven digs and two service aces. The Broncos had 58 kills and hit .205, while the Flyers hit .139 with 47 kills. Two-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year Caitlin Strimel led the defense with a match-high 28 digs to push her career total to 2,021.  The Broncos out-dug the Flyers by 18 (85-67) as sophomore Courtney Seiler added a career-high 12 digs.

Sophomore middle blocker Jaime Gotham hit .533 with nine kills, three aces, four digs and four blocks, while sophomore middle blocker Kate Corbett added eight kills and four blocks. Junior Michelle Moore added 10 kills for WMU and is now just 18 kills shy of breaking Kim Lee's school record of 1,451 career kills.

The Broncos opened the first set on a 7-4 run capped off by three consecutive points from an Eberling kill, Corbett and Eberling block and Gotham service ace. A kill by Moore kept the Broncos up three, 9-6, but then Dayton rattled off three-straight points to even the score. Another kill by Moore, an attack error and block by Gotham and Moore put WMU back up three, 12-9, but the Flyers rallied again to even the score at 15. Corbett hammered home a kill to put WMU back up one, 16-15, but Dayton scored three-straight to go up two, 18-16. This time, WMU rallied and evened the score at 19, but Dayton fired off four-straight points, including two aces to go up four, 23-19. A pair of Gotham kills kept WMU alive, but Gotham and Mitchell couldn't connect on set point for UD, 25-21.

WMU hit .265 with 14 kills, five by Gotham, but were victimized by four service errors. The Flyers hit only .184 with 12 kills, but picked up three aces and only one error. Both teams had three blocks in the opening frame.

Dayton took its momentum from set one and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the secont set.  The Broncos were still down three, 7-4, after a Flyer kill, but woke up with a 7-1 run to take a three-point edge of their own, 11-8, that forced UD to call timeout. Gotham had an ace, while Corbett added a pair of kills during the run. The Flyers answered back with a 7-1 run of their own to go up three, 15-12, but a pair of kills from Doyle, one from Moore and an ace by Mitchell evened the score at 16. The Broncos continued to play well and back-to-back kills from Corbett followed by a triple-assisted block from Mitchell, Corbett and Moore put WMU up two, 22-20. WMU then gave up three-straight points with a service error and two attack errors, but evened the match back at 23 with another block from Corbett and Moore. The Flyers reached set point with a kill, 24-23, but gave it back on a service error. The Broncos capitalized with another ace from Mitchell and a set-ending kill down the line by Doyle, 26-24.

The Broncos knocked home 17 kills, but had nine errors to hit .182 in the second, but they held Dayton to only nine kills for a .184 attack percentage. Doyle led the way with five kills, while Corbett added four kills. The Broncos also had three aces in the second set.

The third set was another stanza of runs. Dayton started with a 4-2 spurt, but WMU answered back with six straight, including kills from Eberling, Corbett and Doyle and a third ace from Gotham to go up 8-4. Dayton came back with a 7-1 run of their own to go up by two, 11-9.  The Broncos hung around and then used an 8-1 run to go up by six, 23-17, after a quad of Eberling kills and a block from Corbett and Mitchell. Dayton answered with two straight, but then hit a serve into the net to give WMU set point, 24-19. The Flyers fired off four-straight kills to save four set points, before Mitchell tipped a ball over her head to end set three, 25-23.

Each team had 14 kills, but WMU had one less error (7-6) and hit .178 to .149 for the Flyers. Eberling had five kills to lead WMU in the stanza and Doyle added four.

The Broncos took early control in the fourth set with a 5-2 run, but the host Flyers answered with a 10-2 run of their own to go up by five, 12-7, before Moore ended the rally with a kill down the left sideline and a tip shot over the heads of the defense, 12-9. The Flyers built the lead back to four, 14-10, when WMU went on a 7-1 run to go back up two, 17-15. Doyle knocked home three kills and Eberling added a kill and block assist during the run. The Flyers came back with three-straight kills to regain the lead, 18-17, for the final time. A service error by the Flyers evened the score, 18-18, and started an 8-0 run to end the match. The Broncos wouldn't led a ball hit the ground and the frustrated Flyers committed five attack errors during the run, including four in a row to end the match.

WMU held Dayton to .060 hitting with 12 kills and nine errors, while the Broncos had 13 kills and four errors. Doyle had five kills and Moore and Eberling added four kills.

Lindsay Fletemier led the Flyers with 17 kills and five blocks, while Nicole Bateman added 10 kills and 23 digs.

The Broncos play No. 16 national seed Tulane at 6 p.m. from the Frericks Center in the second round on Saturday.