|Vandals buck Broncs|
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho volleyball team dropped the first set but responded by winning three straight in a 3-1 win over Texas-Pan American in Memorial Gym on Saturday night.
The Vandals hit .333 in the match and held UTPA to a .120 clip in the match, and improved to 14-10 on the season and 7-5 in Western Athletic Conference play. UTPA falls to 11-17 and 1-11 in the WAC.
“Anytime you can win, that’s what you need to happen,” Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. “As many reps as we can get and the more we can play in a rhythm before the conference tournament, it’s huge. For us, once you get to the conference tournament, it’s anybody’s game.”
Idaho was led by senior Ashley Christman who tied her season-high with 13 kills and hit .440. She added four aces - one shy of her career high which she set just two nights ago - and had seven digs and four blocks in the match.
“(Meredith) Coba’s setting was on tonight, I mean it was perfect,” Christman said of what aided her success. “I had Taylor holding the block so I had almost no block every time, so it was really nice that we’re a team working together to get that offense.”
Middle blockers Alyssa Schultz and Taylor Wilkinson had busy nights as well. Schultz had nine kills without an error and hit .600 in the match, adding three digs and two blocks, and Wilkinson added seven kills on a .333 hitting percentage and a match-high six blocks.
“We’re starting to run some different stuff with our middles and the more we can get good at that stuff before the tournament, that’s a positive,” Buchanan said.
Junior Jessica Hastriter added 12 kills, two digs and two blocks for the Vandals and freshman Ali Forde came off the bench to provide seven kills without an error, three digs and three blocks while hitting a career-best .538.
“Ali’s a rock star,” Buchanan said. “That kid is so strong. She comes in and has an attitude about her even if she makes an error she doesn’t worry about it too much. She just wants the ball and she’s ready to make plays. She’s really blossoming as a player. She’s helped us out every match, which is huge to be able to go to a player off the bench.”
Sophomore Meredith Coba tallied 42 assists, five digs and a block in the match, and sophomore Jenna Ellis had 18 digs and two assists. Freshman Michele Brown added four aces of her own, a career-high, and freshman Terra Varney finished with six digs.
The Vandals out-blocked UTPA 11.0-3.0 and had a 9-6 advantage in service aces. Despite the disparity in blocking, Buchanan would like to see her team clean up their mechanics on the block.
“Even though our blocking numbers are good, they don’t keep track of every ball that our blockers are getting used in a bad way and teams are getting kills,” she said. “Even though we’re out-blocking people, we have to execute the mechanics of the whole block better.”
Idaho stays home next week for its final home match of the season, hosting Seattle U on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Friday’s match will be Senior Night for Idaho seniors Wilkinson and Christman.