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NCAA volleyball tournament: Taylor Mims guides Washington State to first-round win

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 1, 2017, 10:06 p.m.

Junior Taylor Mims had a career night at just the perfect time.

Mims finished with 28 kills and 22 digs Friday to lead Washington State’s volleyball team to a 34-32, 25-14, 23-25, 25-13 victory over Florida State in an NCAA Tournament opener at Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

WSU (18-15) will meet host and fifth-seeded Nebraska (27-4) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the second round.

This is the seventh time in 12 NCAA appearances that WSU has advanced to the second round.

Mims had her ninth double-double of the year and hit .228 for the match.

Her 79 attacks tied Kyra Holt’s 2013 WSU record for most in a match and is the school record for most in a four-set match.

Mims became the fourth Cougar to reach 500 kills in a single season with 526.

“I think our back-row-attack connection works pretty well,” Mims said. “I think that’s the best I’ve ever hit out of the back row this entire season. I think that really kept us going and our defense really picked up as well and that gives us the option to run our offense.”

The Cougars had three other players in double figures for kills: Jocelyn Urias with 13, and Claire Martin and Ella Lajos with 10 apiece.

Cougars sophomore setter Ashley Brown tallied career highs with 57 assists and four blocks. Alexis Dirige added 25 digs.

“I have to give credit to the passers on (the assists total), and our defense, because you can’t hit that well and you’re hitting percentage can’t be that high without the first contact being good,” Brown said. “So that was awesome and that gave me an opportunity to be able to run my offense and set all three hitters, or two hitters if I’m in the front row, pretty much the entire time. Credit to them.”

The Cougars finished with 16 team blocks, led by Martin’s eight and Mims’ six.

Taryn Knuth had 16 kills and four blocks for Florida State (18-11).

“I’m very proud of this team for beating a very, very good Florida State team,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “I thought we came out pretty well. It was a little shaky, we got to go to some extra points there in the first set. In the second set, we were definitely more relaxed, our serving picked up. We made some kind of silly errors in the third set and then got back to Cougar volleyball in the fourth set. Very proud of this team and just advancing.”

“I think we know that the atmosphere is going to be crazy, loud and exciting, but I think that having a game underneath our belt in the lights and on that floor will help us a lot tomorrow,” Brown said of the upcoming second-round match.

Washington 3, LIU Brooklyn 0: Kara Bajema had 15 kills and nine digs to lead the eighth-seeded Huskies (25-7) to a sweep of the Blackbirds (20-10) in Seattle.

Washington will meet Illinois (22-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round. Illinois outlasted Hawaii 3-2 in the opening match in Seattle.


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