Dec. 2, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In thrilling fashion, the 17th-ranked University of San Diego Toreros advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship for the second time in three seasons, defeating ACC Champion Duke University in five games, 27-30, 30-25, 30-17, 27-30, 15-12, at Stokely Athletics Center on Saturday.
The Toreros' Kristen Carlson followed up her 11-kill performance against Jacksonville State with a 27-kill, 17-dig outing against the Blue Devils, picking up her 23rd double-double of the season. Three other Toreros - Christie Dawson (16), Laurel Abrahamson (14) and Amy DeGroot (13) - were in double figures in kills, as well. Jessica Nyrop helped direct the San Diego offense to a .309 attacking percentage as she recorded a match-best 69 assists.
Duke was once again led by Carrie DeMange, who had 20 kills and hit at a .400 clip. Rachael Moss picked up a double-double with 16 kills and 16 digs, and Tealle Hunkus had 18 kills.
"Winning in the NCAA Tournament makes a statement on where your program is going. This is our second trip to the Sweet 16 in the last three years, so that speaks to the consistency of our program," said interim head coach Brent Hilliard. "The key truly is consistency and chemistry. We've been able to win our conference and get back to the NCAA Tournament each year. That fact is important in order to keep our program consistent on a national level."
Game one went to the Blue Devils, 30-27, as neither team could get any major runs going. The game featured 12 tie scores and four lead changes, but after a 3-0 run to take a 15-12 lead, the Devils never trailed. However, both teams' offenses were nearly unstoppable as each squad hit over .400 in the game. San Diego's Kristen Carlson hit a blistering .611 with 11 kills on 18 attempts with no errors. Three Blue Devils were over the .500 mark as Duke registered 25 kills in the opening game.
San Diego answered with a 30-25 win in game two, however, as the offensive onslaught continued from both teams. The hitting percentages dropped, but the big hitters kept on coming. Duke's Talle Hunkus had seven kills in the game and hit at a .636 clip, while San Diego's Kristin Carlson added another seven kills on 13 attempts. The scoring was nearly equal to the first game, as neither team held more than a four-point lead. Just like in game one, there were 12 ties and four lead changes in the set. After being tied at 10-10, the Toreros rolled off four straight points to take a 14-10 lead. But Duke stormed back to take the lead at 20-19. With the score tied at 23, the Toreros went on a 7-2 run to even the match at a game apiece.
San Diego kept the momentum going in game three, dispatching the Blue Devils, 30-17. The Toreros took advantage of Duke's dismal .027 hitting percentage (nine kills, eight errors) while hitting at .412 clip themselves, to take the 2-1 lead. After the game was tied 8-8, San Diego went on a 7-2 run, and Duke never got any closer than three points the rest of the way. Christie Dawson had five of the Toreros' 18 kills in the game, and four USD players hit better than .500.
The Blue Devils would not go away quietly, however, as they won game four, 30-27. With the Toreros leading 27-26, three straight Duke kills - two by Rachael Moss - and a USD attack error led to four straight points for the Blue Devils, knotting the match at two games apiece. San Diego hit only .114 in the game with nine errors while Duke registered 19 kills and hit .216. Moss had seven kills on 13 attacks with only one error and hit .462 in the fourth game.
In the fifth and deciding game, San Diego jumped out to an early lead and hung on for a 15-12 win to clinch the match. The offensive prowess from game one returned as Duke hit .438 and the Toreros struck for .471. San Diego rallied for five straight points after the game was tied at 3-3 and led by as many as six before Duke got within as few as two at 13-11. But two kills by Christie Dawson gave the Toreros the victory.
San Diego now moves on to face top-ranked and No. 1 seed Nebraska in the regional semi-final at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 in Gainesville, Fla.