Nov. 30, 2001
LOUISVILLE, Ky, -- Setter Jing Ding had a triple double with 11 kills, 59 assists and 18 digs to lead the University of Louisville to a 3-2 win over Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament at the Kentucky International Convention Center Friday.
"This is the 'Big Dance' and after reality set in, we left our hearts on the floor," said senior Lesley Drury, who had 13 kills and six blocks.
Louisville improved to 26-6 with the 34-32, 30-19, 27-30, 24-30, 15-4 win. Georgia Tech finishes its season at 19-8.
"If we played best of three instead of best of five, we would probably be in the top three in the nation, " joked head coach Leonid Yelin whose team took a 2-0 lead and then had to stave off a determined Tech team.
Unable to establish a sturdy margin, Georgia Tech could not shed the Cardinals in the first game. At 27-24, Yelin called timeout to regroup his squad. Coming out of the timeout, the Cardinals embarked on a 5-2 run, sparked by a kill and a block by Anastasia Zaitseva and tied at 29. Priess put down a kill to tie at 30 after a Ding kill had taken the Cards to 30. Tech scored to go up one at 31-30. Roberson retied the game with a kill from the right side and then Zaitseva scored the 32nd point to get to game point. Tech answered with a kill by Lauren Sauer but another Zaitseva kill and a miss by Kyleen Bell gave the game to Louisville 34-32.
"These were two very well matched teams in a sluggest," said Tech head coach Shelton Collier. "We both were disappointed in our conference tournament play and came in hungry."
Momentum carried over In the second game as the Cardinals popped out to a 10-2 lead when Lesley Drury had a solo block. Tech didn't panic and chipped away at the U of L lead getting to 14-8 on a Priess kill and forced a Louisville timeout. The Cardinals adjusted and went on a 6-1 lead with Percan notching two of her six kills of that game in the interval. Shelton Collier called timeout at 20-10 to try and turn the tide but the Cardinals coasted to the 30-19 win. Tech hit .000 with nine kills and nine errors on 48 attacks. Louisville hit .204 and outdug Tech 30-18.
"It's really not about the other team for us, it is about us, our athleticism and our teamwork. If we think too much, we can lose our focus, " said Zaitseva.
Yelin knew early in the third game that Tech wasn't going to roll over and used a timeout with a 18-14 lead. The Yellowjackets finally took the lead 26-25 on an hitting error by Zaitseva and Pachale added a point before Yelin blew his last timeout to try to fend them off Tech. An Emily Roberson kill got the Cards to 29-27 but Tech scored game point to win 30-27. Louisville was held to .100 hitting with 16 kills on 60 attacks and 10 errors. Although the Cards outblocked Tech 4-1, the Yellowjackets had 18 kills on 56 kills and only seven kills.
Louisville started the fourth set with a tenuous four-point lead at 12-9 before Tech tied at 13 on a kill by Sauer. The Cardinals fell into a swoon, committing a series of errors that allowed Tech to go on a 7-2 lead for a four point margin at 20-16. Mercer helped stage a comeback with a kill from the middle and Collier had to call a timeout with his lead cut to one at 20-19. The break recharged the Yellowjackets who ran off five straight points, three of which came from Pachale. Mercer started another three point run to come withing three at 25-22. But kills by Percan and Ding were too little, too late and the Cardinals fell 30-24. Tech outhit U of L .360 to .170 led by Pachale's seven kills. Percan managed six kills in the third in the losing effort.
"Georgia Tech played a great game but we sure helped them in games three and four," said Roberson.
The Cardinals four seniors were not ready to end their careers and were very vocal in the huddle prior to the fifth game.
"It is all about mental strength late in a match like that , not skills or height. It is mental strength that helps you push through," said U of L's defensive specialist Sarah Drury.
U of L roared out to a 12-3 lead and ignited the already raucous crowd. Tech was able to score once more and the Cardinals steamed ahead to win the match.
"Emily (Roberson) told us in the huddle, 'never be statisfied' and that helped ignite our fire," said Mercer. "With rally scoring there is no such thing as a sure thing and you never know what could happen. That brought us back to reality. ":
The Cardinals advance and will play Pacific Saturday at 4 p.m. at the KICC.