Nov. 19, 2009

Courtesy of Metro State Athletics

ST. PAUL, Minn. -
For the second straight match, the No. 20 Metro State volleyball team rallied to knock off a higher-ranked opponent as the Roadrunners defeated No. 13 Southwest Minnesota State 25-20, 16-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-13 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in St. Paul, Minn.  Metro State upset No. 3 Nebraska-Kearney in Kearney last weekend to win the RMAC Tournament in five sets after dropping the first two sets.

It was the first win at the NCAA Tournament for the Roadrunners since 2007 when they swept UC-Colorado Springs in the first round.

Metro State entered Thursday's opening round of the regional tournament as the No. 7 seed, while SMSU was the second seed.  The Mustangs dominated the match statistically, outhitting Metro State .167 (60-30-180) to .127 (50-28-173), holding a 14-11 advantage on blocks, an 83-77 advantage on digs and a 9-6 edge on aces.

SMSU consistently put a double block on Bri Morley, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference leader in kills, holding her to just 11 kills and a .047 (11-9-43) hitting percentage.  But that opened opportunities for her teammates as five others had five or more kills in the match.  Anna Mapes came up with big hits throughout the match, totaling 10 kills in 16 attempts with no errors for a .625 percentage.  Julie Causseaux had eight kills, followed by Lisa Jones with seven, Emily Greenhalgh with six and Gabe Curtis with five.

Curtis had 38 assists and 14 digs.  Amy Watanabe provided solid defense with 22 digs, while Ngoc Phan had 16 and Morley 13.

Causseaux had a team-high six blocks and Morley added four as Metro State had 11 total blocks as a team, one shy of a season high.

The Roadrunners played their strongest set of the day in the first, outhitting SMSU .231 (12-3-39) to .064 (13-10-47).  Trailing 13-11, Metro State scored eight of the next nine points to lead 19-14, including six in a row with Watanabe serving as Causseaux had a pair of kills and the Roadrunners used three Mustang errors.  Greenhalgh put away the final point of the set with her fourth kill in the first frame.

Metro State then fell apart over the next two sets and was unable to find a rhythm offensively or defensively.  The Roadrunners hit .000 (17-17-65) during the second and third sets, while Southwest Minnesota State connected at a .230 (21-8-61) clip, including .357 (13-3-28) in the third.

SMSU jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second, though the Roadrunners got back in it moments later with four straight points to cut the lead to 12-9.  But SMSU scored five straight after leading 14-11 to take a 19-11 lead.

The third set went down in similar fashion with the Mustangs leading 12-4 after a run of 10 straight points.

The Roadrunners came back to life after trailing 7-3 in the fourth set.  Metro State scored five in a row, using four errors as Watanabe served another big run to take an 8-7 lead.  The Roadrunners built a 15-10 lead, but SMSU went on another eight-point run to lead 18-15 as Metro State hurt itself with four more errors.

Trailing 19-16, Metro State took the lead right back with Jones serving four in a row to go up 20-19.  With the score tied a 21-21, an SMSU service error sparked a 3-0 run as Causseaux had a kill and SMSU had an attack error to put the Roadrunners ahead 24-21.  SMSU scored the next two points, but Morley ended the fourth set with her 10th kill of the day to force the fifth set.

After the Mustangs took a 3-1 lead, Curtis served four straight points to put Metro State up 5-3 and the Roadrunners led the rest of the match.  Curtis scored on a setter dump to put Metro State up 9-6.  After SMSU cut the lead back to 10-8, the Mustangs made a service error and Causseaux had another kill to lead 12-8.

Metro State led 13-9, but SMSU did not go away, scoring four of the next five points to cut the lead to 14-13.  Curtis went to her right side for the final point after the left side had been been double blocked on the previous two points, and Jones put her attack inside the block to give Metro State to deciding point.

The Roadrunners will face the winner of Nebraska-Kearney and Minnesota Duluth at 6 p.m. (CST) on Friday in St. Paul.