Western Washington Volleyball had a successful three days as it avenged an earlier loss at No. 24 Alaska Anchorage on Saturday, earned a three seed in the NCAA tournament Sunday and received GNAC Team of the Week honors on Monday.
Finishing the regular season with two road wins, the Vikings received an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament going 21-6 on the season and 14-4 in conference. They will face sixth seed Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday in Nampa, Idaho in the opening round of the tournament.
Traveling to Alaska on Thursday, the Vikings made quick work of the Nanooks beating them in three sets. Senior Kayla Erickson led the team with 12 kills while junior Rachel Roeder added 11. Freshman setter Kristina Tribley contributed with 34 assists and five digs as well.
Saturday’s match against the eventual NCAA two seed Alaska Anchorage was a five set nail-biter. After dropping the first set by a 25-23 score, WWU responded by winning back-to-back sets.
The Seawolves won a convincing fourth set, but the Vikings would not be denied. Rallying from a 7-10 hole, Western Washington fought back and finished UAA with kills by GNAC offensive Player of the Week Kelsey Moore and Erickson.
Three Vikings hit double-digit kills in the match including Moore, Roeder and freshman Joellee Buckner.
Through two matches, WWU totaled 104 kills with 96 assists. Senior libero Samantha Hutchinson also added 52 digs to her team high 745.
The Vikings end the regular season in the top two in the conference in digs, assists and opponent hitting percentage as they head to their third NCAA tournament appearance in a row.
Historically, WWU is the only GNAC school to ever make the NCAA tournament’s elite eight where in 2007 they lost to Concordia – St. Paul in the national championship. Concordia – St. Paul has since won the last 7 national championships.
The Vikings are the winningest volleyball team in GNAC history with seven conference titles and 211 wins, 48 ahead of second place Central Washington.