|Baker's 29 kills lift Idaho|
MOSCOW - Led by a career-high 29 kills from two-time first-team All-WAC junior Allison (Walker) Baker, the Idaho volleyball team overcame a first-set loss to beat UTSA 3-1 in Memorial Gym Saturday night.
Baker hit .329 and added 10 digs in the match for her 11th double-double of the season, and the Vandals improved to 6-10 overall and 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference with the 20-25, 28-26, 25-13, 25-22 win.
Baker's big night was aided by a balanced offense that kept the Roadrunners guessing all night. Senior Alex Sele finished with 13 kills and just one error, hitting .500 while adding seven blocks. Sophomore Alyssa Schultz had seven kills and five blocks for Idaho. Senior Julia Church and sophomore Jessica Hastriter each finished with four kills for Idaho, and freshman Katelyn Peterson added two.
"When she plays like that she is definitely one of the top players in the conference," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said of Baker. "This is the first time we've had a more balanced offense where we can set other people and she doesn't have to be the one to take all the swings. That's huge for her to get 29 kills and hit over .300 and have a solid performance."
The Vandals hit .229 in the match and held the Roadrunners to a .195 hitting percentage. Idaho owned a 14.0-8.0 advantage in blocks, and a 9-3 advantage in service aces. UTSA out-dug the Vandals 89-86.
The win is Idaho's third straight, and completes a two-match home sweep of WAC newcomers Texas State and UTSA, which finished first and second in the Southland Conference a season ago.
"I was a little worried after game one, I'll be honest," Buchanan said after Saturday's match. "We seemed a little jumpy, a little flat and a little anxious. But then we got some momentum in game two and got better with each game and we totally broke them down. I don't think they expected us to keep getting better as the match went on. We did a great job, I'm very proud of our girls to go 2-0 (this week)."
Idaho started the match in a 6-2 rotation but switched to a 5-1 with senior Jenny Feicht doing the setting. She finished with 41 assists, 18 digs and two blocks. Senior Janelle Chow had a match-high 25 digs, and Church added five digs and six blocks for the Vandals. Freshman Jenna Ellis finished with 13 digs and four of Idaho's nine aces.
The Vandals, who entered the match just 6-9 in the third set this season, including 1-4 when tied 1-1, set the tone after the break, jumping out to a 9-1 lead en route to the 25-13 win. Idaho hit .364 with just one error on 44 swings in that set.
"It was nice to get better after the break," Buchanan said. "Typically we're not good in game threes. For us to take control in that game was huge. I definitely thought that we got better. We got our middles more involved and for Allison to be taking the swings she was taking at the end was big."
The Vandals will be on the road the next two weeks. Idaho visits Seattle U on Oct. 5 before a long trip to UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech Oct. 11 and 13. Idaho returns home when it hosts Utah State and San Jose State in Memorial Gym Oct. 18 and 20.