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NCAA WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL

USC Sweeps Way Into Finals

December 19, 2003|From Associated Press

DALLAS — Keao Burdine had 13 kills and 10 digs to lead defending champion USC over Minnesota, 30-27, 30-28, 30-20, Thursday night to advance to the finals of the NCAA women's volleyball championships.

USC (34-0) struggled to win the first two games of the semifinal match and had to score the last three points of the second game after Minnesota led most of the way. Burdine scored the game's last point on a spike from the left side. It was one of her six kills in the game.

USC will next face No. 3 Florida, which defeated No. 2 Hawaii, 30-28, 30-28, 23-30, 30-28, in the other semifinal.

Florida (36-1) will try to avenge its only loss of the season when it faces USC on Saturday in the championship. The Trojans defeated the Gators, 31-29, 30-17, 30-25, in their season-opening match Aug. 22 in Honolulu.

"We're really excited to play in the final match," Burdine said. "It's pretty hard for us to play those teams that come at us all the time. It seems like we always have a target on our back and the other teams are always playing as hard as they can."

USC won the first game Thursday despite blowing an early eight-point lead. The Trojans led, 19-11, but the Gophers went on a 12-3 run, scoring seven consecutive points off the serve of setter Lindsey Taatjes to take a 23-22 lead. USC rallied to score eight of the game's last 13 points and won on a kill by April Ross.

The Gophers took a 5-0 lead to start the third game, but USC went on an 18-4 run to take control and finish things off.

Ross and Bibiana Candelas each had 11 kills for the Trojans. Ross had seven digs and Toni Anderson led USC with 38 assists.

Cassie Busse led all players in the match with 23 kills for Minnesota (26-11) and also had 12 digs.

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