|Vandals advance to semifinals|
LAS VEGAS - The Idaho volleyball team look sloppy in its 25-16 opening set loss in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament on Monday night. The Vandals didn't look much better midway through the second set, trailing Boise State 16-8.
But Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan called time out with her squad down by eight, and when the Vandals stepped back onto the court, they played like a whole new team. And that Vandal team roared back to beat the Broncos in five sets, 16-25; 27-25; 25-10; 25-27 and 15-7 to advance to the WAC semifinals.
"I told them that we're better than that," Buchanan said. "We can't allow Boise to dictate how we're going to play. I said 'It's time to grow up and be the offense that we are and play the game of volleyball.'"
After having just one block in the match up to that point, the Vandals stepped up with four more to close out the comeback win in the second game. That defensive presence was a major factor in boosting Idaho to victory.
"We changed our blocking scheme a little bit so we started blocking more balls and getting more touches," Buchanan said. "Our passing got a little better as time went on as well. Really, we made some things better after the timeout."
After equaling the match at one set each, Idaho used a late rally to seal a 25-20 win in an otherwise tightly contested third game.
The fourth set was back-and-fourth the whole way, with 11 ties and five lead changes. The Vandals led 15-10 in before BSU went on a roll to take an 18-16 lead. The teams traded points until Boise State had the first opportunity to close out the set, leading 24-23. But Idaho won the next two points and had its own chance to seal the match, leading 25-24. Again, Boise State fought back, this time aided by three consecutive hitting errors by Idaho, to win the set 27-25.
Game five was not in question for long. Idaho pulled ahead to a 4-1 lead, and after Boise State closed the gap to 7-6, it was all Idaho. The Vandals cruised to a 15-7 set victory to advance to their third WAC semifinals in program history.
The Vandals will face WAC regular season champion Hawai'i on Tuesday night at 7:30 with a spot in the WAC championship match on the line.
"It's huge," Buchanan said. "We were in this same position last year and this win means a lot. Now we go on to the next round."
Allison Walker had her seventh double-double of the season, and fifth in her last six matches, as she finished with a match-high 21 kills to go along with 13 digs. Cassie Hamilton had 30 digs for Idaho, keeping several tough balls alive. She also added three assists and an ace. Kelsey Taylor finished with 15 kills and six blocks, and hit .324 for the match.
Julia Church also had a stellar night for the Vandals, filling up the stat sheet with six kills, 17 digs, five total blocks, two service aces and one assist, while hitting .308. Alica Milo had 12 kills for Idaho, and was one dig shy of a double-double, finishing with nine. Alex Sele had 10 kills and four blocks for Idaho, and Jenny Feicht finished with 51 assists in the match.
The Vandals hit .216 in the match, and owned a .375 to .000 hitting advantage over the Broncos in the deciding fifth game. Idaho out-blocked BSU 11.0-8.0, and held a 91-90 edge in digs. The Vandals served up four aces, while BSU had five, but the Broncos were hindered by eight service errors, while Idaho had just three.
Idaho's next opponent, Hawai'i, rolled to a perfect 16-0 record in WAC play on the season. The Rainbow Wahine did not lose a single set during conference play, winning all 16 matches by a 3-0 sweep. The Vandals faced Hawai'i less than a week ago, falling 3-0 in Honolulu on Nov. 18 in the regular season finale.
Fans can follow all the action via Joe Vandal's live blog at http://www.govandals.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=17100&ATCLID=205035062.