Nov. 14, 2004
(San Diego, CA) - With a three-game sweep over No. 12 St. Mary's Saturday night in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, No. 19 San Diego clinches the 2004 West Coast Conference Championship. USD (19-4; 12-0 WCC), winners of 13-straight, own any possible tie-braking scenario with second-place St. Mary's (22-3; 10-2 WCC) after defeating the Gaels for the second time this season. Senior Devon Forster was once again the catalyst for San Diego, hammering 19 kills to lead all players. Game scores went (30-26, 30-25 and 30-24).
"We played flawlessly tonight," commented Jennifer Petrie after clinching her first WCC Championship during her six year tenure as the Torero head coach. "We are still focused on finishing out the conference strong. There is a lot left to play in the season. We have high aspirations to finish out the conference schedule undefeated."
San Diego's flawless play included outstanding individual efforts from a Torero team that out-hit the Gaels .240-.110. Senior Kristen Hurst totaled 11 kills, junior Jackie Bernardin tallied 21 digs, Lindsey Sherburne distributed 50 assists and junior Monica Peterson served seven straight points to allow USD a comeback victory in the later stages of Game Two.
In front of a loud collection of over 1,200 fans the night began with both teams trading points throughout most of Game One. Manning the back-row, the defensive efforts provided by the USD trio of Sherburne, Forster, and Bernardin, held the high-powered Gael offense to a lowly .176 hitting percentage in the opening frame. San Diego emerged from a 21-21 tie to take Game One 30-26.
St. Mary's bolted to a 5-1 advantage in Game Two, with four consecutive San Diego errors accounting for the early lead. With San Diego lacking rhythm, St. Mary's assumed a commanding 22-16 Game Two advantage. San Diego mounted a late rally. Consecutive kills by Hurst and middle blocker Emily Haas cut the Gaels' lead to 22-18.
Trailing by two, 25-23, Petrie called upon reserve defensive specialist Monica Peterson to take the serve. The junior from Los Angeles calmly reeled off seven consecutive points to close out the game. Three kills by Forster assisted in the Toreros' spirited comeback, sending USD into the locker room up two games to none.
With its conference championship hopes slipping away, the Gaels opened Game Three by taking a 4-1 lead. San Diego quickly answered back to tie the score at four. The two squads went back and forth until a vicious kill by Hurst gave the Toreros the lead for good at 10-9. A service ace by Bernardin and a kill by outside hitter Kristen Carlson put the Toreros in front 14-10. Closing in on the WCC title, the senior tandem of Forster and Hurst combined for 15 kills in the final frame to secure the championship. Hurst scored the final point, with the Toreros winning Game Three 30-24 and the celebration ensued.
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