|Idaho makes trip to La Tech; NMSU|
MOSCOW, Idaho - After going 3-1 in its recent four-game home stand, the Idaho volleyball team is back on the road, traveling to Louisiana Tech on Oct. 14 and New Mexico State on Oct. 16 in a pair of Western Athletic Conference matches.
"I think the hardest thing when you're on the road is keeping your focus and not getting distracted," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. "This is especially one of those trips because it is a long trip where we leave here at 3:20 in the morning and won't get to our hotel until 6:30 their time."
The Vandals enter the week at 9-9 overall and are in fourth place in the WAC at 4-3. Idaho senior Kelsey Taylor has been lights out lately, hitting over .300 in each of Idaho's last five matches, including hitting .500 or better in three of those. In her last five matches combined, Taylor has 47 kills and only three errors on 95 attempts, hitting .463 while racking up 34 blocks. She ranks 23rd in the nation with 1.29 blocks per game, and her .287 hitting percentage for the season leads the team.
Redshirt-freshman Allison Walker leads the Vandals with 235 kills on the season, while Alicia Milo has 197. Idaho setter Jenny Feicht is nearing her 500th assist of the season, as she enters the week with 488, averaging 9.76 per game. Cassie Hamilton's 272 digs this season lead the team and rank fifth in the WAC. The Vandals are 3-3 on the road in 2010, and are out-hitting their conference opponents .214-.210 in their seven WAC matches. Idaho ranks 10th nationally in blocks per game, averaging 2.87.
Louisiana Tech enters the week at 10-10 on the season, and 0-5 in the WAC. The Lady Techsters have won eight 3-0 sweeps so far this season, but have been swept 3-0 in all five of their WAC matches in 2010.
The Vandals own a 10-0 all-time advantage in the series against Louisiana Tech, sweeping the home-and-home season series every year since joining the WAC in 2005. Louisiana Tech's Lori Hunsucker leads the WAC and ranks 40th in the nation with 5.04 digs per set. Kara Jones' 336 career blocks rank third all-time at Louisiana Tech in that category. The Lady Techsters lead the WAC in digs with 15.09 per game, and rank third in opponent hitting percentage at .162.
"You have to go in and respect your opponent and you have to be able to do the things that we're working on on a daily basis right now," Buchanan said. "If we think we're going to walk in there and get a win just because they haven't won any, then we're probably going to struggle and it's going to be an ugly match. You respect your opponent, and that's the bottom line."
New Mexico State is 10-9 heading into the week, and stands in second place in the WAC at 4-1 in conference play. The Aggies will host Boise State on Oct. 14 before facing Idaho on Oct. 16.
Although the Vandals lead the all-time series against NMSU 12-10, the Aggies are the ones who have owned the series lately. New Mexico State has won eight of its last 10 matches against the Vandals, including a victory in the 2006 WAC semi-finals. New Mexico State hitter Kayleigh Giddens leads the WAC with eight double-doubles on the season.
"They're (New Mexico State) always good," Buchanan said. "They have some heavy hitters on the outside and they pass well. It's the team that executes their system the best."
The Vandals break up a pair of two-game road trips with a single match at home against Hawai'i on Oct. 21. That match will be Idaho's second home match this season to air on ESPNU. Start time is scheduled for 8 p.m.