|Balanced attack leads to sweep|
MOSCOW -- The Idaho volleyball team busted out of its slump in a huge way Thursday night, sweeping Denver with a 25-22, 25-12, 25-22 victory in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Idaho had lost its last seven matches entering Thursday, with the last six of those coming to teams that currently have winning records. The Vandals improve to 3-8 in 2012 with the win, and 1-0 in the WAC. Denver falls to 6-4 this season and 0-1 in the WAC.
"They needed that, we have had a tough road," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said after the match. "We probably played one of the toughest schedules in the WAC. It's easier when you're at home than when you're on the road, so that helps us out a little bit. Now, can we keep it going is the question."
For the second consecutive match the Vandals hit a season-high, this time with 48 kills and 17 errors on 107 swings for a .290 percentage. Ryann Carter did the setting for Idaho, and finished with 43 assists and added a career-high four aces, three digs and two blocks.
The showing was Idaho's most balanced offensive attack of the season. Four Vandal players had double-digit kills, and three hit over .450 in the match. Sophomore Alyssa Schultz had 10 kills on 12 attempts to hit a career-high .750.
"I thought we did great," Schultz said. "Our freshmen stepped up big time. Our seniors stepped up and led. Everyone just did their jobs tonight and it was a lot of fun."
Junior Ashley Christman led the team with a career-high 13 kills, and only needed 22 swings as she hit .455 and added a pair of blocks. Senior Alex Sele matched her season high with 11 kills and hit .474 in the match. Junior Allison (Walker) Baker finished with 12 kills and four digs for Idaho.
"Because Allison has tended to get a lot of kills and she's a go-to player for us, you can see that teams start to release their blocks out, so we're trying to overload the other way with our middle and our outside," Buchanan said. "We're getting Ashley a ton of balls, and our middle and they had some great nights tonight. Our distribution was really good. All of our hitters hit numbers that were above and beyond their goals, which is what we need to do."
Senior Janelle Chow had a team-high 16 digs for the Vandals, and freshman Jenna Ellis added six and a pair of aces. Idaho out-hit Denver .290-.204, and had a 43-34 advantage in digs. Both teams finished with 8.0 blocks.
There were a couple of first in the match Thursday, as it was the first meeting between the two schools in program history. It was also Idaho's first 3-0 victory of the season.
The Vandals continue WAC play on Saturday when they host New Mexico State at 7 p.m. in Memorial Gym. New Mexico State comes in with a 7-3 overall record and is 1-0 in the WAC. The Aggies were picked to win the WAC in the league's preseason coaches poll, while Idaho was picked second.