|Vandals narrowly miss comeback|
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Idaho volleyball team forced a fifth set against Cal State Northridge on Friday evening, but after Idaho took a 7-5 lead in the deciding frame the Matadors reeled off a 10-1 run to close the match with a 15-8 win to take a 3-2 win; 18-25, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8; over the Vandals.
“This was a tough team, they have a ton of experience,” Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said of Cal State Northridge. “We knew we were going to have to play at a high level, and we did alright, but our passing wasn’t as good as it was last week so our middles weren’t as involved as we wanted them to be, which was pretty much the difference.”
Northridge, which is receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Top 25 Poll, scored the final eight points of the match to remain unbeaten, improving to 4-0 on the season. Idaho falls to 3-2 with the loss and is 0-2 in five-set matches.
“You could tell they’re experienced because they hit .600 in that last game,” Buchanan noted. “It’s definitely something for us to learn from and we want to strive to be a team like that, who goes all out in that last set.”
Idaho hit .214 in the match with 54 kills and 20 errors on 159 attempts. Junior Jessica Hastriter led the Vandals with a career-high 17 kills while hitting .256. Sophomore Katelyn Peterson had 13 kills and hit .225 in the match, while Ashley Christman added nine kills, Taylor Wilkinson added seven and a team-high .417 hitting percentage, and Alyssa Schultz added six. Schultz and Wilkinson each added four blocks in the match. Meredith Coba finished with 44 assists, five digs and a block, and Jenna Ellis led Idaho with 22 digs.
Northridge hit .270 in the match and held a 69-56 advantage in digs over the Vandals.
Idaho hit .220 in its 25-18 first-set win, but despite hitting .290 in the second set, was unable to go into the break with a 2-0 lead, as the Matadors fought off a late Vandal rally to tie the match with a 25-23 win. After losing 25-16 in the third set, the Vandals forced a fifth set by winning five of the final seven points to break a 20-20 tie and win 25-22 in the fourth.
“We’re battling,” Buchanan said. “It’s a matter of fine-tuning some things and reducing some of those errors at the end, especially when you only have 15 points.”
Idaho continues the NAU Fiesta Bowl Tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m. against Northern Arizona, which is 3-0 in 2013. A free live web stream of that match will be available at NAU-TV.com. Idaho wraps up the tournament Saturday at 4 p.m. against San Diego State.
“I’m not really familiar with NAU yet,” Buchanan said. “I know that they’re a good team and they have been playing well. I expect another tough match.”