Nov. 19, 2009

Courtesy of Cal State L.A. Athletics

Cal State L.A.'s women's volleyball team put its recent experience in five-set matches to good use Thursday in the opening match of the NCAA Division II West Region playoffs.

The Golden Eagles rallied from a 2-1 sets deficit and beat Sonoma State, 20-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-20, 15-12 Thursday in the "Den" at Cal State San Bernardino. Cal State L.A. (22-8), the No. 6 seed, advances to the regional semi-finals for the fifth straight year by beating a fellow California Collegiate Athletic Association opponent for the second straight season. Sonoma State (22-8) was the No. 3 seed.

Cal State L.A., which dropped its first four five-set matches this season, has now won its last three five-set contests. The Golden Eagles finally broke through for a five-set win over Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 31 and followed that up with a five-set win over Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 6.

The Golden Eagles never trailed in the final set on Thursday, although Sonoma State was within striking range throughout. Cal State L.A. got back-to-back kills from Bulawczyk and another from Laupepa to open up a 10-6 advantage. After Sonoma State closed to within 10-9, a kill by Laupepa and a block by Laupepa and Bulawczyk made it 12-9 and the Golden Eagles led by at least two points the rest of the way. A kill by Laupepa gave the Golden Eagles a 13-10 lead and Cal State L.A. earned its final two points on service errors.

Gabriela Bulawczyk and Mary Laupepa, who were both named to the All-CCAA first team earlier in the day, had 18 kills each for the Golden Eagles. Laupepa had a sensational match, recording her 18 kills in just 26 swings with only two errors for a hitting percentage of .615. Bulawczyk had a double-double by adding 13 digs.

Cal State L.A. also got an outstanding effort from Kassie Faulkner, who had 11 kills and three blocks. Marquis Mora had eight kills and six blocks.

Sonoma State's Keala Peterson had a match-high 23 kills, while Allyson Sather had 14 kills and Rikki Buchshnis had 10 kills.

Kaylynne De La Rosa had 48 set assists, seven digs and three blocks, while Stefanie Gay had a team-high 20 digs. Annie Kim added 15 digs.

The match figured to be a close one between two CCAA foes. Cal State L.A. came into the contest ranked 19th in the country, while Sonoma State was ranked 18th. The Golden Eagles finished third in the conference, while Sonoma State was two games back in fourth.

The two teams also split its previous meetings this season.

Cal State L.A. started slowly and dropped the first set. The Golden Eagles, though, did show some signs of life by fighting off five set points behind the serving of Zuzana Cizova before the Seawolves finally closed it out.

The Golden Eagles had a dominating effort in the second set, putting together a set-closing 8-2 run to even things up.

The third set was tight, but Sonoma State broke a 22-22 tie on a kill by Lindsay Brown and a block by Peterson and, after a kill by Laupepa kept the Golden Eagles in it, a kill by Peterson gave the Seawolves a 25-23 win.

Cal State L.A. then fought hard in the fourth set to extend the match. Sonoma State was within 19-18, but  kills by Laupepa, Bulawczyk and Mora pushed the lead to 22-18 and the Golden Eagles got a kill by Cizova and a block by De La Rosa and Mora to send the contest to a fifth set.