LAIE, Hawaii — The right mix of veterans and newcomers all played massive roles Thursday afternoon as No. 22 Cal State San Bernardino earned a spirited come-from-behind 3-2 win over Central Washington in the opening match of the 2012 NCAA West Regional.
Behind freshman outside hitter Alexandra Torline’s season-high 21 kills, the Coyotes (23-8 overall) now advance to Friday’s semifinal against Grand Canyon, which defeated San Francisco State in its opening round.
First serve will be at 7 p.m. PST/5 p.m. HST at Brigham Young-Hawaii’s Cannon Actvities Center and will be webcast live. You can watch the match by clicking on the NCAA volleyball logo on the Coyotes Athletics home page and then click on the video link.
The four-time reigning regional champ won its 13th straight regional contest with an assortment of stars on the afternoon in a 25-16, 20-25, 24-26, 25-16, 15-13 win. Along with Torline’s stellar effort, the Coyotes received double-digit kill efforts from senior MB Mercedes Winchester (15), junior OH Danielle Newcombe (12) and freshman OH Ashley Solis (12).
Winchester was outstanding on the defensive end with eight block assists as CSUSB finished with 24 block assists and two solos. Four Coyotes had double-digit dig performances with sophomore libero Arielle McCullough (22), Newcombe (18), sophomore Jordan Ortega (13) and All-American setter Camille Smith (11).
The fifth and final set featured seven ties until the Coyotes earned just a little bit of breathing room with a kill from Torline and a block assist from Smith and Winchester to pull ahead 11-9.
After a block from CWU, Winchester aided the Coyotes’ cause with a kill and CSUSB led 12-10.
The Coyotes kept their two-point lead after a service error when Smith and Winchester earned another block assist, putting the score at 13-11.
CWU took a timeout and closed within a point on a kill from Rachel Hanses.
But a kill from Solis extended the lead to 14-12 and the Coyotes put their opponent away with a block assist from Solis and fellow freshman Jade Robinson.
Overall, the match featured 21 ties and five lead changes, but CSUSB prevailed with a season-best 71 kills and 81 digs. Its hitting percentage (.229) was a difference maker as CWU was held to .132 (56-29-204).
The match was a monumental one for Smith, who eclipsed the 3,000-assist mark early in the match. She entered play needing just 25 and and tied her career high with 61 set in a match against Cal State East Bay in 2010.
Newcombe tied her career high with digs against the Wildcats.
CWU (21-8) was led by Marcy Hjellum’s 17 kills.
MATCH NOTES: The 5-set win was CSUSB’s first five-set match in regional play since the 2005 title match against Cal State L.A., a 3-2 loss… The victory is No. 498 for coach Kim Cherniss… CSUSB improved to 7-0 all-time against Central Washington.
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