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November 13, 2008

Lutes Fall to Nebraska Wesleyan in NCAA Tournament Opener

Box Score

LA VERNE, Calif. - For the second time in three years, Pacific Lutheran lost in five sets in its opening round match of the NCAA Division III West Region tournament at the University of La Verne.

The Lutes won the first two sets against Nebraska Wesleyan before seeing the momentum, and the match, slip away by a 26-28, 24-26, 25-19, 25-14, 15-12 score. PLU, which finishes with a 20-7 record, actually took an 8-4 lead in the deciding fifth set before the Prairie Wolves went on an 9-1 run to take control. Nebraska Wesleyan, which improved its record to 20-9, advances to a Friday night match against No. 4-ranked La Verne.

Pacific Lutheran came to the 2006 region tournament hosted by La Verne and lost in five to Redlands, and last year dropped its opening round match to Puget Sound in the tournament hosted by Cal State-East Bay in Hayward, Calif. Pacific Lutheran has a cumulative 2-5 record in a total of five NCAA Division III national tournament appearances.

The Lutes, who came into the tournament ranked No. 16 in Division III volleyball, came out with a solid first-set effort, hitting .233 with 17 kills and only three errors. In the second set, both teams hit under .100, but the Lutes were able to pull out the win and take a 2-0 lead.

The Prairie Wolves, the only unranked team in this six-team regional, gained the momentum in a big way in the third set, pounding a .361 attack percentage on 16 kills and only three errors while the Lutes managed to hit just .100. Nebraska Wesleyan continued to take the match to the Lutes in the fourth set with 15 total kills while PLU managed just eight kills and a paltry .049 attack percentage.

That brought the match down to the deciding fifth set, and the Lutes started out strong, building an 8-4 lead with Katy Tauscher providing back-to-back kills during the run. After a timeout, the Prairie Wolves scored three straight points on two PLU attack errors and a kill, and they eventually went ahead 10-9 on another PLU attack error. That led to a string of three consecutive kills by Nebraska Wesleyan, which finished the match on Abby Bade's kill.

Bade had a big match for Nebraska Wesleyan with 21 kills and a .278 attack percentage, while teammate Laura Brammeier was not far behind with 19 kills and a .250 percentage. The Prairie Wolves finished the match hitting .197 as a team.

Beth Hanna led PLU with 17 kills but she also struggled with 12 errors and a .068 attack percentage. Moore ended the match with 16 kills and hit .156 while Erin Bremond had 11 kills and a team-best .267 percentage. Sarah Beaver had 53 assists and Brenna Archibald led all players with 36 digs. The Lutes hit only .120 as a team.

NOTE (Nov. 15, 2008): PLU freshman outside hitter Kelsie Moore was named to the West Region all-tournament team.

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