Volleyball: WWU, CWU Open NCAA Regionals Thursday
Flick takes a 273-73 career record into the NCAA regional tournament.
Flick takes a 273-73 career record into the NCAA regional tournament.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NCAA WEST REGIONAL (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at Laie, HI): Thursday – #3 CSU San Bernardino (22-8) vs. #6 Central Washington (21-7), noon; #2 Grand Canyon (23-5) vs. #7 San Francisco State (21-8), 2:30 p.m.; #4 Western Washington (23-3) vs. #5 Sonoma State (22-8), 5 p.m.; #1 BYU-Hawaii (21-3) vs. #8 UC San Diego (20-10), 7:30 p.m. Friday – Semifinals at 5 and 7:30 p.m.  Saturday – Championship at 7 p.m.  (Note: Winner advances to the national tournament Dec. 6-8).

PORTLAND, Ore. - Western Washington and Central Washington earned the No. 4 and No. 6 seeds and are in Hawaii to compete in the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament. Top-seed BYU-Hawaii will host the tournament.

The Vikings, who earned the GNAC’s automatic berth in the tournament, will face fifth-seed Sonoma State at 5 p.m. (Hawaii time) Thursday. The Wildcats will open the tournament at noon against defending champion and No. 3 seed Cal State San Bernardino.

The WWU/Sonoma winner will face the winner of a match between UC San Diego and BYU-Hawaii in the semifinals Friday at 7:30 p.m.  The CWU/CSUSB winner will advance to play either No. 2 seed Grand Canyon or No. 7 seed San Francisco State in the semis. 

The Vikings are in the regional for the seventh time during the 13-year tenure of WWU head coach Diane Flick (272-72) and have a combined NCAA playoff record of 5-5. They made regional appearances in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2010, losing in the national championship game in 2007 when they became the only team in GNAC history to win the regional title.

Central Washington qualified for the regional for the fourth time and has an all-time regional record of 1-3.  They lost in the opening round in 2004 and 2006 and reached the semifinals – as the No. 7 seed – in 2005. 

Western Washington is led by GNAC Player of the Year Marlayna Geary. The senior outside hitter leads the conference in kills (4.16) and points (4.76).  Nationally she ranks 14th and 15th, respectively, in the two categories.

GNAC Defensive Player of the Year Samantha Hutchinson, setter Laurie Yearout and middle blocker Kayla Erickson have also been key players for the Vikings.  All three joined Geary on the first team all-conference team announced Monday.

Hutchinson is the conference leader and ranks fifth nationally in digs (6.35).  Yearout leads the conference and ranks fifth nationally in assists (11.92).  Erickson finished the regular-season ranked second in the GNAC in blocks (1.18) and third in hitting percentage (.352).

The top players this fall for 17th-year Central Washington head coach Mario Andaya (266-198) have been outside hitter Marcy Hjellum and middle blocker Erin Smith.  Hjellum ranks third in the conference in kills (3.79), while Smith ranks second in attack percentage (.360) and seventh in blocks (0.94).

Both players earned first team honors on the GNAC all-conference team.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS:  Western Washington is 2-2 this fall against other West Region playoff qualifiers, splitting two matches with CWU (losing 3-1 at Ellensburg and winning 3-0 at Bellingham), defeating fifth-seed Sonoma State 3-1 and losing to eighth-seed UC San Diego 3-2 ... Central Washington is 2-3.  In addition to dividing matches with the Vikings, the Wildcats beat UCSD 3-1 and also lost to both Sonoma State 3-1 and second-seed Grand Canyon 3-2.