Double Regional Champs Share Team Of The Week
Members of the Western Washington volleyball (left) and Seattle Pacific women's soccer teams (right) celebrate after securing NCAA West Region championships with tournament wins this week.
Members of the Western Washington volleyball (left) and Seattle Pacific women's soccer teams (right) celebrate after securing NCAA West Region championships with tournament wins this week.

Monday, December 6, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Washington volleyball and Seattle Pacific women’s soccer each added to their trophy haul with NCAA tournament performances.

The two teams both won regional championships this week in postseason play, crowning their respective programs as the best in the West Region’s three conferences to share the GNAC Co-Teams of the Week award. With these titles, three GNAC teams have won regional championships this season, as Simon Fraser women’s cross country won their crown back on November 6.

Western Washington volleyball took home their regional championship by winning three matches in three days in San Bernardino, California to open up the NCAA Tournament.

Seeded No. 2 in the West Regional, WWU battled GNAC opponents in both the first and second rounds, speaking to the depth of quality volleyball teams in the conference. The Vikings faced No. 7 Simon Fraser in the first round on Thursday, advancing in four sets behind 17-kill performances from Gabby Gunterman and Tess Biscup. On Friday, the Vikings topped No. 6 seed Central Washington, who was the last team to beat WWU back on September 23. There would be no upset this time as the Vikings were dominant offensively. Western Washington finished the night with a .377 hitting percentage and saw five players hit .400 or better individually in a 25-21, 20-25, 28-26, 25-15 win.

The Vikings advanced to the regional finals on Saturday against Cal State LA, who were fresh off a massive upset of defending national champ Cal State San Bernardino. But even a Golden Eagles team playing their best volleyball of the year was no match for a Vikings squad firing on all cylinders. Western Washington squeaked out two opening set wins by scores of 25-23 and 29-27, but blew the doors off in the third set, winning 25-15. The Vikings advanced to the Elite Eight in Tampa, Florida from December 9-11, where they will be the No. 2 seed. It was the fourth regional championship for the WWU program and the first since 2018.

“Everybody contributed in some way,” head coach Diane Flick-Williams said. “We have a cry that we are not stars, because that’s individual. We are a galaxy. That really came full circle tonight. I can’t be more proud of how these guys approached the match.”

Seattle Pacific women’s soccer also advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals by defeating GNAC rivals Western Washington in the regional finals on Thursday, 2-1. The Falcons had a bye in the first round by virtue of their No. 1 regional seed before topping Sonoma State 2-1 in the second round to set up a fourth meeting of the year between SPU and the second-seeded Vikings.

The Falcons opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Vikings goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx brought down Falcons forward Sophie Beadle in the box and senior midfielder Claire Neder converted the ensuing penalty kick. Beadle scored a second goal just after halftime when Chloe Gellhaus made a smart pass into space on the right flank for Beadle to run onto. The sophomore went back across goal through the legs of a Vikings defender for her finish and the ball found the bottom left corner for Beadle’s eighth goal of the year.

The Falcons withstood a late push from WWU, who got one goal back and forced the Falcons’ defense to make several lunging saves at the goal line, but the Falcons held on for a 2-1 win. It was the Falcons’ first NCAA regional championship since SPU won the national title in 2008. The victory extended the Falcons’ unbeaten streak to 15 matches and gave them 19 wins, also a program high since 2008.

“Today was phenomenal,” head coach Arby Busey said. “That’s two teams that knew each other going back and forth. It was everything that we expected from an opponent the quality of Western Washington, and it took everything we had in the tank to get this done today.”

On Saturday, Seattle Pacific’s season came to an end with a 1-0 national quarterfinal loss on the road to Dallas Baptist, the South Central Region champions.