| 03.24.2018

WAC standings close as tourney nears


Cal-State Bakersfield avenged a recent loss at Memorial Gym to the Vandals with a Saturday win on their home court, as the back-and-forth race to the WAC title continues. 

The Vandals had been playing good volleyball until a tough 3-1 road loss against the Cal-State Bakersfield Roadrunners. Before the loss, the Vandals won three matches in a row including a Thursday thriller against Utah Valley that knocked the Wolverines off the top of the WAC.

In the beginning, it looked like the Vandals would continue the winning streak and tie Seattle U for fourth in the WAC after a first set win. But the momentum of the game slowly began to drift in favor of
the Roadrunners.

The Roadrunners answered a 23-25 first set loss with two consecutive 25-17 set wins pushing the Vandals to fight for the fourth set. The Vandals and the Roadrunners were tied 22-22, but the Roadrunners crushed comeback hopes to earn three of the last four points of the match for a heartbreaking victory.

Despite putting up impressive blocking numbers, the Vandals couldn’t get the win. Unfortunately, the hitting percentage didn’t equate to blocks. Idaho junior middle blocker Alyssa Schultz amassed 12 kills and an impressive six blocks to hit .381 for the night. Idaho senior middle blocker Taylor Wilkinson added nine blocks and five kills but hit just .214 on the night.
As a team, the Vandals hit just .142 with 18 errors. The Roadrunners hit poorly as well, at just .201 for the night but had enough of an advantage to win.

Vandal passing was not the typical performance for this season. The Roadrunners racked up 58 assists while the Vandals put up just 32. Sophomore setter Meredith Coba had a typical 30 assist night but had a negative hitting percentage. On defense, the Vandals produced 60 digs with libero Jenna Ellis contributing 15 digs along with freshman defensive specialist Terra Varney’s eight. Outside hitter Katelyn Peterson finished just one under Ellis with 14 digs on the night but the Roadrunners held the advantage with 69 total. The Vandals out blocking the Roadrunners 17-6 just wasn’t enough.

With the loss, the Vandals drop down to fifth in the WAC, with a 6-4 record. The Roadrunners flirt with the top spot with six consecutive victories and a 7-3 WAC record for the season at third place in the conference. New Mexico State leads the race with an 8-2 record on the season and an undefeated record at home.

The Vandals look to bounce back this week by returning to Memorial Gym where they have had some success, so far this season. On Thursday, the Vandals face the top ranked WAC team, New Mexico State on Halloween night. The Vandals drew blanks against the Aggies the last time the two teams played. After that, Texas-Pan American is next on the schedule for another home match on Saturday. This is  followed by a Nov. 8 attempt at revenge against Seattle U at Memorial Gym after falling to the team on the road in Seattle. With just six matches left on the season, the Vandals are entering must-win opportunities for a shot at the sought after title.

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