|Team effort lifts Vandals|
BOISE, Idaho – It took a complete team effort for the Idaho volleyball team to grind out a 3-2 victory over North Texas to win the Bronco Volleyball Classic with a perfect 3-0 record.
Idaho (6-4) hitters Jessica Hastriter and Katelyn Peterson each had career-highs in kills, as Hastriter finished with 23 and a career-high .538 hitting percentage while Peterson added 20 kills and hit .333. Setter Meredith Coba had a career-high 67 assists, topping her previous best of 50, leading Idaho to a .389 hitting percentage in the match.
Middles Alyssa Schultz and Taylor Wilkinson added to the offensive showing with 14 and nine kills, respectively. Wilkinson hit .667 in the match and added five blocks, and Schultz hit .344 and had two blocks. Jenna Ellis helped Idaho’s defense with 22 digs and Terra Varney added 15.
“We are getting contributions from every position, and a lot of that has to do with Coba,” Buchanan said. “She really distributed the offense well today. She is getting better and better every match and really being able to read what the defense is doing and also just knowing which hitter are on and who to go to. She did a great job this weekend and our hitters also did a great job.”
Idaho’s .389 hitting percentage in the match is the team’s second highest this season, and is more than 150 points better than its Western Athletic Conference-leading season average of .237 entering the match.
The Vandals and Mean Green (6-6) spent most of the morning and early afternoon trading points and sets. Idaho never led by more than three in its 25-23 win in set one that featured seven ties and four lead-changes. After eight ties and two lead-changes, the Mean Green evened the match with a 25-22 win in the second set. Idaho took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-20 win in the third set. Despite it being the largest margin in any set, the third the most ties of any with 13. North Texas forced a fifth set with a 25-22 win in the fourth, but Idaho edged the Mean Green 16-14 in the final set.
“It was back-and-forth right to the wire and we had some kids who made some really big plays,” Buchanan said. “Overall it was a pretty good team effort and it was a great weekend for us going into next week.”
In the two sets Idaho lost the Vandals still put up gaudy numbers. Idaho hit .429 with a side-out percentage of 63 percent. In the fourth game Idaho hit .500 with a side-out percentage of 60 percent.
“If you look at that match, it was a high defensive match with a lot of digs by both teams, and high hitting percentages,” Buchanan said. “We were losing when we hit .440. That doesn’t happen very often but both teams were on, it was a side-out game. Our kids were able to make some adjustments and just battle through. That match really could have gone either way. I’m proud of our kids to be able to sustain and not let little things affect us.”
North Texas hit .346 in the match and Idaho held a 7.0-6.0 advantage in blocks. North Texas had 69 digs, to Idaho’s 67 and the Mean Green had a 6-3 advantage in service aces.
The tournament championship is Idaho’s first since 2008. The Vandals will face Nevada and Washington State at the Cougar Invite Sept. 19 and 20. That will be Idaho’s final non-conference tournament before returning to Moscow to open WAC play against Utah Valley on Sept. 26.