|Vandals win fourth straight|
FRESNO, Calif. - The Idaho volleyball team won its fourth straight match Thursday night with a 25-23; 20-25; 25-21; 25-23 win over Western Athletic Conference foe Fresno State.
The Vandals improve to 15-11 with the win and 9-4 in the WAC and clinch a regular season sweep over the Bulldogs. Fresno State falls to 12-14 and 6-7 in the WAC with the loss.
"We got better as the match went on," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. "We didn't start out the match passing particularly well, but we made key plays when we needed them for sure. We definitely kept them out of system the last couple games and they couldn't run what they wanted to."
The Vandal attack was led by outside hitters Allison Walker and Alicia Milo, that WAC's last two Players of the Week. Both players posted double-doubles Thursday, as Walker finished with 17 kills and 14 digs while hitting .316, and Milo tallied 15 kills and 10 digs and hit .268 in the match. Walker also added two aces and three total blocks in the match.
"If you watched us those first two games we were digging and passing everything off the net, and we were pretty much an outside team," Buchanan said. "We talked to them after game two and said 'we have got to be able to get our middles involved.' I thought we did a better job of that as the match went on and that was part of the difference."
Middles Alex Sele and Alyssa Schultz each had three kills for Idaho, while Sele added six blocks and Schultz had four. Rylee Walker added four kills out of the middle for Idaho. Jenny Feicht had three of Idaho's nine service aces, and added 47 assists, six digs and five blocks while setting the Vandals to a .232 hitting percentage. Julia Church had six kills, nine digs and five blocks in the match, and Cassie Hamilton had 13 digs and an ace for the Vandals.
The Vandals finished the match with 48 kills and hit .232. Idaho had a 55-49 advantage in digs and a 12.5-8.0 advantage in total blocks.
"We were able to clamp down some at times," Buchanan said. "Typically we've been blocking pretty well. We served a little tougher and kept them out of system to where they could only set the outside or the back row a lot of times, and then we were able to transition and get our middles involved and as a team we just played better as the match went on."
Fresno State had 60 kills in the match and hit .203.
The Vandals are 9-2 since Oct. 1 and have the chance for their second five-match win streak in that time when they face Nevada on Saturday.
"We're still making our errors, but I feel like they're locking in and making adjustments better than we did early on," Buchanan said. "That's the difference right now. When things get tight or even when we're down they're working their way back and they're fighting through it."
Idaho's regular season finale beings at noon on Saturday at Nevada (5-20, 2-11 WAC). Buchanan and the Vandals know that second place in the WAC and a first-round bye in the conference tournament is still up for grabs. Idaho needs a win over Nevada Saturday coupled with a New Mexico State loss at No. 6 Hawai'i to clinch the No. 2 seed and a bye into the semifinal in the WAC tournament.
"They're locked in," Buchanan said of her team. "They've got goals right now and obviously they want this to happen. We're in the position to do it, but we can't overlook the fact that Nevada is a good team, they're at home and they're doing some good things right now. This is another challenge for us to be on the road and execute the game."