Nov. 18, 2010

Courtesy of West Florida

TAMPA, Fla. - The No. 20 West Florida volleyball team (29-6) advanced to the NCAA South Regional semifinals with a 19-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 16-14 win over conference-foe North Alabama in Tampa this afternoon. The win over UNA advances UWF in the NCAA tournament. UWF, the No.2 seed in the South Region, will face No. 6 seed Rollins on Friday at 5 p.m. (eastern).

UWF staged a comeback after dropping the first two sets. For the match, UWF was led by senior Katie Johnson (Tallahassee), who had 17 kills and three total blocks. Senior Kara Gonzalez (St. Augustine) had a stellar afternoon, with seven kills and a career-high 10 total blocks. Her 10 blocks ties for third in the UWF record books for blocks in a single match.

West Florida dropped the first set, 19-25. UWF went down by three, 9-12, on a UNA kill by Sarah Roberts. UWF tied the set at 12 all with a kill by Anna Stoecklein. UNA built a four-point lead when a kill by Hristina Markova gave UNA the 20-16 advantage. A bad set by Molly Pearce (Tallahassee) and an attack error by Johnson, gave UNA the set, 19-25. North Alabama outhit the Argos, .344 to .129 in the set. Sarah Roberts led UNA with six kills in the set, while Johnson tallied five kills for UWF. Johnson's five kills gave her 400 kills for the season.

UWF jumped out to an early 4-2 lead in set two with a kill by senior Chelsea Wilhoite (Jacksonville). UNA went on a five-point run and a kill by Ari Smith gave UNA its first lead of the set, 9-8. A Whilhoite kill tied the set at 12-12, but was followed by four-point run by the Lions, taking the 16-12 lead. A kill by fifth-year senior Jamie Nichols (Crawfordville) brought UWF within three, 20-23. A Sarah Roberts kill gave UNA set two, 25-22.

Down two sets, the Argos battled in hopes of seeing their season continue. UWF took an early 5-0 with setter Tricia Tirabassi (Kenosha, Wis.) serving all five points. UWF never looked back and never relinquished the lead in set three. A Johnson kill put UWF up, 16-12. A Nichols kill advanced the lead to five, 19-14. A kill by Wilhoite set up set point, 24-17. An attack error by Roberts gave UWF its first set of the match, 25-17.UWF held UNA to a -.050 hitting percentage for the set, while hitting .258.

UWF carried its momentum in set three over to set four. UWF once again never lost the lead and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on three straight kills by Johnson, Gonzalez and Nichols. UWF built a five-point lead when a Johnson kill made the score, 12-7 UWF. A kill by Gonzalez put UWF up, 22-16. Another Gonzalez kill gave UWF set four, 25-17. UWF had four blocks in set four only.

UWF took the early 3-0 lead on an attack error by UNA's Ari Smith in set five. UNA battled back and tied the set at 6-6 on a kill by Natalie Marsh. Another Marsh kill tied the set at 9-9. UWF went up by two, 13-11, on a Johnson kill. An attack error by Nichols allowed UNA to tie the set, 13-13. A Wilhoite kill tied the set at 14-14. A Nichols kill put UWF up, 15-14. An attack error by UNA's Roberts gave UWF set five, 16-14.

This was the 24th overall meeting of the two schools. UNA now owns the series, 14-10. The Lions built a 12-0 record against UWF through the 2006 season. Since 2007, however, the Argonauts have won 10 of the last 12 meetings. In five of the last six meetings, the team that has won the first set has lost the match. UWF is now 3-1 against UNA this season. Two of UWF's wins over UNA has come at critical points this season. UWF defeated UNA last Saturday, 3-1 in the GSC tournament championship match. Today's win advanced UWF in the NCAA tournament.

No. 6 seed Rollins defeated No. 3 seed Florida Southern in the first match of the day, 3-2. Rollins will face UWF at 5 p.m. (eastern) on Friday. Live stats and video of the match will be available on