|Vandals drop WAC-opener|
MOSCOW – The Idaho volleyball team had a 2-1 lead over Utah Valley after three sets but couldn’t hang on as the Wolverines came back with fourth- and fifth-set wins for a 3-2 win in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Despite Idaho’s youth, with a freshman and three sophomores in the starting seven, Vandal head coach Debbie Buchanan isn’t making any excuses.
“At some point you got to quit being young and step up and start taking control and that’s the one thing we aren’t doing right now and we have the ability to,” Buchanan said. “There were times when we had the lead and we could have made some runs and instead we kind of sit back and we wait. We are on the young side but we have to grow up a bit and start taking control.”
Three Vandals (7-6) tied for the team-lead with 13 kills, including middle blocker Alyssa Schultz who hit .423 and added eight total blocks in the match. Senior Ashley Christman and junior Jessica Hastriter also added 13 kills each, as Christman hit .391 with seven digs and three blocks while Hastriter added three digs and two blocks. Sophomore setter Meredith Coba had 43 assists, five digs and five blocks in the match, and sophomore Jenna Ellis tallied a team-high 17 digs. Freshman Terra Varney had 13 digs for the Vandals.
The Vandals took a 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-22 win in the first set, but Utah Valley tied the match heading into the break with a 25-22 win of its own. The Vandals won the third set 25-19 before the Wolverines (7-8) took 25-21 and 15-11 victories in the fourth and fifth sets for the win.
“We have to learn from this because if you look at the teams and how they came out, I couldn’t really tell which team wanted to win,” Buchanan said. “Whichever team got on a run or didn’t commit too many errors had the advantage and in that sense we need to take more control of the match at this point in the season and that’s something we have to take from this.”
Utah Valley out-hit the Vandals with a .175 hitting percentage while holding Idaho to a season-low .168. The Wolverines also had a 14.5-13.0 edge in blocks while the Vandals had a 57-53 advantage in digs.
Idaho senior Taylor Wilkinson finished with eight kills and five blocks in the match and redshirt-freshman Ali Forde had three. Michele Brown added two aces and three digs for the Vandals.
Idaho returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 28, when Bakersfield visits Memorial Gym for a 7 p.m. match. The Vandals will wrap up their three-match home stand on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. against Grand Canyon.