The Western Washington University volleyball team earned the No. 3 seed at the West Regional of the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championships, which takes place on Nov. 20-22 at host and No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene.
The Vikings, 21-6, face No. 6 seed Cal State San Bernardino (21-6) in an opening-round match at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20. The winner advances to the second round against either No. 2 seed Alaska Anchorage (21-5) or No. 7 seed Sonoma State (20-6) at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21.
All matches will be videostreamed on Stretch Internet.
In the two other first-round matches, No. 5 seed BYU Hawaii (21-5) faces No. 4 seed Central Washington (19-7) and No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene (24-2) plays No. 8 seed Dixie State (20-8).
It is the eighth trip to the NCAA nationals for WWU, all of them during the 15-year tenure of Flick. The Vikings earned an at-large regional berth after finishing third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 14-4 record. The 20-win season is their third straight and 10th during Flick’s tenure.
WWU will be making a third straight regional appearance, the first time it has done that since a similar run from 2001 to 2003. The Vikings reached the national championship match in 2007, the only time they have advanced past the first two rounds.
WWU, ranked No. 15 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA II Top 25 Poll, has won its last four matches. Earlier the Vikings had a seven-match winning streak, the longest in the GNAC this season.
The Vikings lost in five sets to CSUSB at the Central Washington Wildcats Classic on Sept. 16. The Coyotes have won six regional titles, two straight from 2003 to 2004 and four straight from 2008 to 2011. CSUSB, which holds a 10-2 series advantage over WWU, is ranked No. 22 nationally.
BYU Hawaii, the Pacific West Conference champion, has won the last two regional crowns, reaching the national title match in 2013. Northwest Nazarene captured the GNAC title and Sonoma State took the California Collegiate Athletic Association crown.
WWU libero Samantha Hutchinson is the NCAA II national statistical leader in digs per set average at 7.23 and is second in total digs at 745. She was a first-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American last year and a two-time GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. She ranked second nationally in digs per set last year as a junior and fifth as a sophomore.
Hutchinson ranks second among WWU leaders in career digs with 2,416 (6.62 avg. per set), trailing only Courtney Schneider (2004-07) at 2,695.
WWU middle blocker Kayla Erickson ranks 11th among school career leaders in kills with 1,011. She is second all-time in both WWU and GNAC history in career attack percentage at .340.
Erickson, the 2013 GNAC Player of the Year and a second-team Daktronics All-American, tops WWU in kills (354, 3.44 avg.), attack percentage (.307) and blocks (101, 0.98). She has posted double-figure kills in 23 matches this fall.
Erickson ranks fourth among GNAC leaders in attack percentage, fifth in kills and eighth in blocks.
Setter Kristina Tribley leads the GNAC in assists per set at 11.02 (915) and opposite-side hitter Jennica McPherson is third in service aces at 0.32 (28).
Outside hitter Rachel Roeder is averaging 3.11 kills per set (314), outside hitter Kelsey Moore 2.98 kills (292), and middle blocker Joellee Buckner (R-Fr., Colville) 0.77 blocks (77).
Flick is averaging 21.1 victories per year and her win total and 79.1 winning percentage are both program bests. She ranks No. 8 nationally in win percentage among DII coaches and has been named GNAC Coach of the Year eight times.
Last week, WWU swept a road trip to Alaska, winning in three sets at Alaska Fairbanks and prevailing in five sets at Alaska Anchorage, to earn GNAC Team of the Week honors. Moore had a career-high 23 kills in the UAA victory and was named GNAC Offense Player of the Week.
CSUSB ranks fifth nationally in blocks per set at 2.53. Brenna McIntosh is third nationally in blocks per set at 1.37, and Tori May is second in attack percentage at .412.