|Vandals get revenge in thriller|
OREM, Utah – After two sets against league-leading Utah Valley, the Idaho volleyball team looked like it would be UVU’s next home victim. But the Vandals erased a 2-0 deficit and won three straight sets for a 3-2 win, snapping UVU’s four-match home winning streak.
The win is Idaho’s (13-8, 6-3 Western Athletic Conference) third in a row, and knocks Utah Valley (13-12, 7-3 WAC) out of the league’s top spot. The Vandals also avenge a 3-2 loss to the Wolverines in Moscow earlier this season with the victory.
“We knew because we lost the Utah Valley match at home we had to get this one on the road,” Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. “These are huge matches for us as we go into this last stretch. At some point it comes down to just playing your game. We definitely got better as the match went on and we took them out of some things. We made some things happen and they’re a good team.”
Idaho senior Taylor Wilkinson tallied nine kills without an error, hitting .529 in the match, while adding six blocks. Sophomore Katelyn Peterson and junior Jessica Hastriter tied for the team-high with 11 kills each, and junior Alyssa Schultz added nine and five blocks. Redshirt-freshman Ali Forde added seven kills and provided a spark off the bench after a sloppy first set for Idaho.
“She’s been huge for us to be able to do that,” Buchanan said of Forde’s contribution. “She has that mentality where she just goes. Teams don’t really know how to deal with her. She’s been a huge spark plug for us.”
Sophomore Meredith Coba finished with 44 assists, nine digs and three blocks in the match, and sophomore Jenna Ellis had 18 digs and two aces. Freshman Terra Varney had 15 digs and fellow freshman Michele Brown had three of Idaho’s nine aces.
The Vandals had a negative hitting percentage for most of the first two sets and were hitting just .048 after the second, while Utah Valley was hitting at a .317 percentage. However, Idaho hit .257 over the final three sets while holding the Wolverines to a .144 clip.
“We did not play well the first two, we had a lot of errors,” Buchanan said. “I told them there are five games for a reason. The team I know can fight and battle and grow up as a team. We could have folded, that would have been the easy thing to do. Luckily the kids stepped up and started making some things happen.”
Idaho hit .177 in the match while Utah Valley hit .207. The Vandals finished with 12 blocks, 64 digs and nine aces and the Wolverines tallied nine blocks, 69 digs and five aces.
The Vandals will visit Bakersfield on Oct. 26 in a battle between the WAC’s two hottest teams. Idaho will put its three-match win streak up against Bakersfield’s streak of four straight. The teams are tied in the league standings with identical 6-3 WAC records. The Vandals beat the Roadrunners 3-1 in Moscow earlier this season. Saturday’s match beings at 7 p.m.