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NCAA Volleyball Recaps

Dec. 2, 2006

San Diego - 3
Duke - 2

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.

Missouri - 3
Santa Clara - 0

STANFORD, Calif. - Inconsistency and bad luck haunted the No. 21 Santa Clara volleyball team Saturday night, as the 2006 season came to an end with a 3-0 (35-33, 30-24, 30-26) loss to the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos end the 2006 season with a record of 20-8.

Anna Cmaylo hit .364 with 17 kills to lead the Broncos offensively, while Brittany Lowe added a double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs. Caroline Walters turned in another fine defensive performance, making 33 digs in the match.

"I thought we played well enough to beat Missouri, but they came up with key blocks and key digs, and we didn't, and that made a difference," said head coach Jon Wallace. "They were very consistent out there and didn't make many mistakes."

Game one got off to a taut start, with the teams battling back and forth until Missouri grabbed three straight points to gain a 13-9 cushion, forcing Santa Clara to burn a timeout.

Still trailing by four at 18-14, the Broncos put together a 4-0 run thanks in part to a pair of Tiger handling errors, tying the game on a Nichole Clark kill. From there the battle swung from one side to the other, each team matching the other. The Broncos took five straight one-point leads late, only to see the Tigers continue to match them. Missouri took a one-point lead of their own at 28-27 after an SCU ball-handling error, but following the team's second timeout, Santa Clara answered with two consecutive points to hold game point at 29-28. But a service error nullified the game point, and the teams battled to the 33-33 mark until Missouri got a block followed by an ace to close out the first game for the early lead.

Missouri kept momentum on their side early in the second stanza, leading 7-5 and playing lively ball until the Broncos started to wake up and get in synch. That came when Evans came to the service line, dealing three aces to help fuel a five-point burst that gave SCU a 10-7 lead. But a lead that got to 12-8 disappeared just like that as Missouri took the lead by winning the next five points.

Santa Clara battled back to take a 21-19 lead behind four straight points and two kills from Lowe, but again, Missouri came back, grabbing four points of their own to retake the lead at 23-21. The Tigers kept the momentum from that point, closing out the game with a 7-3 run.

"We were still in it up to the 25-point mark in that second game, but then our passing broke down and that hurt us," Wallace said.

Having already rebounded from an 0-2 deficit three times this season, the Broncos showed that they weren't going to go quietly. Kills from Cmaylo and an ace from Lowe spurred a five-point run that gave SCU a 13-9 lead in game three. But once again, Missouri was able to creep back into it, scoring the next four points to tie the game.

Santa Clara took a 15-13 lead soon after, but the Tigers evened it up again, and took a slim advantage at 18-17. The teams went back and forth from this point on, and although the Broncos grabbed leads of their own at 19-18 and 22-21, Missouri came back as they had all evening, and eventually closed things out with a 30-26 win.