evOhio State battled back after losing its first two games to Tennessee, and advances to the NCAA Regional Final. The Buckeyes will play the winner of the Minnesota versus Georgia Tech match this evening.
Stacey Gordon led Ohio State with 35 kills on the night, a tally that moved her into fourth place on the NCAA's all-time career kills list. She now has 2,754 kills in her collegiate career. She also became the Big Ten leader in single season kills, surpassing Vanessa Wouter's mark of 765 in the 1996 season.
With the win, Ohio State advances to its first NCAA Regional Final since the 1994 season. The Buckeyes have advanced to the Elite Eight on two other occasions, and have won both of their NCAA Regional Final matches. In 1994, the Buckeyes defeated Long Beach State in 3-1 to advance to the NCAA Final Four. In 1991, Ohio State beat Nebraska 3- 1 to advance to the NCAA National Semifinal.
NCAA Volleyball Regional Semifinals
Dec. 10, 2004
Tennessee Head Coach Rob Patrick:
"We played really well, I'm very proud of the team, not only for this match, but for the whole season. Ohio State played very good defense, providing their offense with opportunities. I don't feel like our defense stopped them the way we could have."
"Not having NCAA Tournament experience caught up with us in this match. None of our players had played in a Sweet 16 match before tonight. Tennessee hadn't been to an NCAA Sweet 16 in 24 seasons."
"The players put in a tremendous amount of work since last January, they realized that work equals success."
Tennessee junior setter Julie Knytych: "In general, when the team gets up two games, they have a tendency to start slow in the third game. That's what happened to us tonight, we came out tough in the fourth game, but it wasn't enough."
Tennessee junior middle blocker Kristen Andre: "We're definitely excited about next year, we've already started talking about it in the locker room. This year gives us experience and motivation for next year."
Ohio State Quotes
Ohio State Coach Jim Stone
"I thought we played very hard. Even in the first two games when we lost I thought our team played extremely hard. In those first two games I felt we were struggling with consistency. I was hoping to just turn it around after the break in game three. I give credit to the players; they really turned it up. I'm very proud of the effort they gave."
"Stacey (Gordon) has earned a right to take big swings. I was pleased that throughout the match others were contributing. But when we need big points, the ball goes to Stacey more often than not. Like I said before she's earned that right."
(On playing Georgia Tech or Minnesota) "They're so different; it's going to be an interesting match. Georgia Tech is so quick. Minnesota on the other hand is so tall and has an outstanding libero. Both present a unique challenge; it's not better or worse with either one."
Ohio State senior outside hitter Stacey Gordon
"I didn't want to look back, and think about a game that we could have won. I wanted to be proud of everything we did, win or lose. I thought in game three we came out with intensity and from there were more consistent as a team."
(On the possibility of advancing to the final four) "Oh my god! That speaks for itself. Ohio State hasn't gotten this far in such a long time. We need to stay focused and get ready for Georgia Tech or Minnesota."
Ohio State senior middle blocker Maya Mapp:
"We all knew we could play better than those first two games. Stacey (Gordon) gave a heart felt speech in the locker room, and she let it be known that this should not be our last match. After that, I knew we'd come back."
(On this season, after transferring from North Carolina State) "It's been a dream come true. My time at NC State was fun, but it was not what I wanted from a volleyball standpoint. Here (Ohio State) it's a competitive environment, and I have great coaches and teammates."
Ohio State vs. Tennessee Match Notes
Ohio State will make its second NCAA Regional Final appearance, and its first since 1994, when they defeated Long Beach State 3-1 to advance to the NCAA Final Four.
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon moved into fourth place on the NCAA's all-time kills list with 35 kills in the match. She now has 2,754 in her career. She also broke the Big Ten and Ohio State records for single season kills, surpassing Vanessa Wouters who collected 765 in the 1996 season. Gordon has tallied 798 kills so far this season.
With the win, Ohio State retained its perfect series record against Tennessee, which now stands at 7-0.
Ohio State is now 2-2 on the season when losing the first game, and 3-0 in five-game matches this year.
Tennessee lost its first five-game match of the season, after beating Florida in its first two five-game matches this season (11/14/04 and 11/21/04)
Ohio State's setter, Marisa Main, surpassed her previous career-high of 68 assists with 86 against Tennessee
Tennessee setter Julie Knytych finished the season in second place on the SEC single season assists list with 1,709.