Dec. 4, 2009

Courtesy of Northern Iowa

LINCOLN, Neb. – The No. 20 University of Northern Iowa volleyball team defeated Washington State 3-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament Friday afternoon in Lincoln, Neb. UNI won by scores of 26-24, 25-21 and 25-20 to collect their 29th straight win and their first NCAA Tournament win since 2006.  

Shannon Aschoff and Michelle Burow led the Panthers (31-2) with 13 kills each, and each hit .300 or better in the match. Bre Payton finished with 38 assists, 14 digs and eight kills, and Ellie Blankenship tallied 18 digs.

Rachel Todorovich led Washington State (18-13) with 15 kills, and Renee Bordelon finished with 35 assists.

The Panthers trailed by as many as six points in the first set, 13-7. The Panthers chipped away at the lead, and tied the set at 17-17. WSU reclaimed the lead, and held a 23-20 advantage. Burow, Payton and Aschoff connected for three straight kills to tie the set, 23-23. Meagan Ganzer put down a kill for WSU to bring up set point, but a kill by Burow tied the set, 24-24. The next two Washington State attacks went wide, giving UNI the 26-24 set victory.

UNI used a 7-2 run to break a 3-3 tie and take a 10-5 advantage in the second set. UNI would go on to build a 19-11 lead, but the Cougars chipped away and pulled within three, 23-20.  Amy Braun put down a kill off a Beth Discher set to bring up set point, 24-20. Brittany Tillman’s kill kept the set alive for the Cougars, but Payton found an empty spot on the WSU side to give UNI the 25-21 set win.

Trailing 12-9, UNI scored five straight in the third set to take a 14-12 advantage. WSU tied the set at 14, 15 and 17, but UNI scored three quick points to take a 20-17 lead. Jackie Albright ended the Panther run with a kill for the Cougars, but the Panthers claimed the next two points to extend their lead to 22-18. Leading 23-19, Aschoff put down a block that brought up set point. Ganzer connected for a kill to keep the set alive, but her attack on the next point went wide, and the Panthers claimed the 25-20 set win and the match.

The Panthers hit .269 in the match, compared to .174 for the Cougars. UNI finished with 66 digs to WSU’s 55. Washington State tallied one more team block than the Panthers, 5.0 to 4.0.

The Panthers will advance to play the winner of the match between 10th-seeded Nebraska and Coastal Carolina.