ANCHORAGE – Dixie State saw its 2015 season come to an end as the eighth-seeded Red Storm’s upset bid of No. 9-ranked and west region top-seed Alaska Anchorage came up just short in a five-set thriller, 18-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 12-15, Friday night at the NCAA Division II West Regional Volleyball Championship in the Alaska Airlines Center.
After dropping the opening set, the Storm (19-11) rolled through the second set, breaking an 11-11 tie with six-straight points as part of a 14-4 run, to even the match at a set apiece. Freshman Taylor Duryea tallied two of her set-high four kills in the frame, while Delayne Daniel started the rally with a kill and the Storm scored five-consecutive points with her on serve.
The Seawolves (27-2) fought back in game three, scoring 11 of the stanza’s first 15 points to jump out to an 11-4 lead. DSU hung tough, however, as the Storm slowly chipped away at the deficit and pulled to within three points on a couple of occasions late in the set on pair of Duryea kills, but UAA hitter Caitlin Hanson put away the final point of the set to give the Seawolves a 2-1 advantage.
Dixie State bolted out to a quick 4-1 lead to start set four and had a 6-4 edge after a Makenzi Bird-Murphey kill, but the Seawolves rallied to score 10 of the frame’s next 15 points to take control of the set at 14-11. DSU clawed back with a 5-1 spurt to reclaim the lead at 16-15 and force a UAA timeout. However the stoppage in play did not slow down the Storm’s momentum as DSU extended its lead to 20-16 and clinched the set on consecutive blocks from Duryea and junior Lindsay Jones to force a deciding fifth game.
The Storm looked as if they were poised for their second regional first-round upset in as many years in the early going of set five as DSU raced out to a 7-3 lead. Bird-Murphey tallied two kills during the run, while Duryea had a kill and an ace, which forced UAA to call another time out and silence the crowd of just over 2,600 fans.
Unlike the Seawolves’ time out in the previous set, this stoppage put a stop to Dixie’s momentum as Alaska Anchorage came back out on the court and rattled off four-straight points to tie the score at 7-7. After a Bird-Murphey kill gave the Storm the lead back at 8-7 at the crossover, the Seawolves took back the lead for good by outscoring the Storm 8-4 the rest of the way to end Dixie State’s tourney run.
Duryea led the Storm with 15 kills to go with six total blocks and four digs, while Bird-Murphey finished with nine kills and four total blocks in her final collegiate game. Junior Kailey Frei notched her seventh double-double with 35 assists and 11 digs, and Alex Anderson recorded a match-high 25 digs in her final college match.
Erin Braun led the Seawolves with 14 kills, while Hanson added 13 kills with seven block assists.
Notes: Friday’s crowd (2,627) ranked No. 22 all-time in NCAA Division II history for a women’s volleyball match … DSU fell to 2-3 in NCAA regional play overall … senior Alex Anderson closed her four-year Dixie State career as the school’s all-time leader in sets played (389), second in career digs (1,756) and fourth in career aces (81) … senior Makenzi Bird-Murphey ended her four-year DSU career as the program’s all-time leader in block assists (238), third in total blocks (262) and fourth in solo blocks (24).
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