UCSD hosts volleyball playoffs

    For the UCSD women’s volleyball team, there truly is no place like home. The Tritons play host to the NCAA Division II Far West regional this weekend, Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, looking to preserve their undefeated record at RIMAC Arena this season and to earn a berth in the national quarterfinals.

    Carina Weber
    Guardian file

    The Tritons come in as top-seed favorites in the most competitive region in the nation and look to protect their home court against all challengers. UCSD is riding an eight-game winning streak overall, and has been playing much improved volleyball since some key players have returned from injury.

    Setter Teresa Ohta and outside hitter Bonnie Wilson will be key to the Tritons making a run.

    UCSD (25-4) comes in as the No. 1 seed, so the Tritons, along with second-seeded Western Washington (24-1) will receive a first-round bye. Western Washington will play the winner of Cal State San Bernardino versus Seattle University on Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. followed by the Tritons versus the winner of the Hawaii Pacific and Cal State Bakersfield match at 7:30 p.m.

    Third-seeded Cal State San Bernardino (25-4) will face sixth-seeded Seattle University (17-8) at 5 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the opening match of the tournament. The Coyotes of Cal State San Bernardino are the California Collegiate Athletic Association champions for the third consecutive season, beating the Tritons for the conference title by one game.

    Cal State San Bernardino spent three weeks atop the Division II national rankings, and comes in as a heavy favorite over the Great Northwest Athletic Conference runners-up ‹ the Redhawks of Seattle University. The Coyotes are led by 2002 All-Americans outside hitter Kim Ford and middle blocker Kim Morohunfola. Seattle’s kill leader, Sarah Sommerman, and setter Erika Brunson lead the Redhawks.

    Hawaii Pacific (15-7) comes in as the fifth seed in the region after being defaulted the Pacific West Conference title because of the forfeiture of nine league matches by conference rival BYU-Hawaii due to an ineligible player.

    The Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield (20-7) come in as the fourth seed after finishing third in the CCAA. The Roadrunners used an impressive push late in the season to earn a berth into the tournament, highlighted by an upset of No. 1 UCSD in Bakersfield on Oct. 17. Jessica Slayton who leads her team with 4.06 kills per game will guide the Roadrunners.

    Hawaii Pacific will counter with the offensive talents of Nadica Karleusa and Flavia Brakling ‹ part of a strong international core for the Sea Warriors ‹ in an attempt to earn a rematch with UCSD in the semifinals. UCSD defeated the Sea Warriors 3-2 on Sept. 5 in Hawaii.

    Second-seeded Western Washington’s only loss on the year was a season-opening defeat at the hands of the Tritons, but the Vikings have reeled off 24 consecutive victories since that time. Western Washington won all 18 of their conference matches for the third consecutive year in the GNAC, but that conference is usually not particularly strong, so Western Washington will be out to prove that it’s impressive win-loss record is not a fluke against some quality competition. Viking setter Liz Bishop, who averaged 13.65 assists per game this season and is a two-time GNAC Player of the Year, leads Western Washington.

    The regional playoffs begin on Nov. 20 at RIMAC Arena. The regional final will be held Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets for all matches will be sold at the door.

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