The Cats appeared dead in the water as USC built an 11-7 lead in the first game of the NCAA Regional final, but someone forgot to tell the Wildcats that they were not supposed to comeback on the fourth-seeded Ladies of Troy. The Cats scored eight of the next nine points, including the last six of the contest.
"We went down 12-9 and scored the next six points," said Coach David Rubio. "That doesn't happen in games to 15."
Dana Burkholder, the team's senior setter was named the Regional's MVP. She guided the Cats' offense, dishing out 54 assists and helping the Wildcats at the net in their best blocking night of the season.
"It's a great day to be a Wildcat," said Burkholder. "I absolutely love my team. We've all given so much to each other."
The Wildcats put themselves in an early hole, dropping the first game 30-25. USC controlled the early going, pulling out to a 19-11 lead. The Wildcats battled back to get within four on several occasions, but USC survived several small runs to finish off the Cats.
The second game was much closer early on, but USC slowly built up a 12-8 lead. Then, with Rachael Williams serving, the Cats scored nine straight points to build up a 17-12 lead. The Cats then coasted to the 30-24 win.
The third game proved to be the closest of the match. The Cats and the Trojans battled nearly point for point with neither team scoring more than two straight points until late in the game when the Cats scored three straight to build up a 26-20 lead. USC quickly scored three of their own to make it 26-23. The Cats scored four of the next five points to take a two-games to one lead.
USC scored the first four points of game four but the Cats stormed back to make it 4-3. The Ladies of Troy took advantage of some untimely Wildcat errors and led 21-18. The Cats were able to tie the game at 21 and later at 26,but USC scored enough and held on for a 30-28 win.
The fifth and final game was one for the ages.
USC got the early advantage as the Trojans scored the first three points taking advantage of a Jill Talbot error and a service ace.
The Cats showed some life after a vicious Shannon Torregrosa spike and found themselves down only 4-3.
The two teams traded points, but USC slowly pulled out to an 11-7 lead. The Cats were living and dying with Torregrosa who put in a gusty performance on a bad ankle.
Things looked bleak, but the Wildcats failed to give up.
"WE tried to put our doubts aside," Rubio said.
Burkholder won back the save and a USC spike landed out of bounds to allow the Cats to trim the lead to two, 11-9. Following a Alicia Robinson block the Cats followed with a Talbot block and won back the serve.
Torregrosa slammed home another spike to tie the game at 12. An ace serve by Lisa Rutledge gave the Cats their first lead. A Talbot tip and another Torregrosa kill finished off the scoring and placed the Cats in the Final-Four.
Torregrosa finished with 16 kills including three in the fifth game.
"She (Torregrosa) really stepped up," Rubio said. "I can't tell you how proud of Shannon I am."