|Vandals Top Eagles, 3-1|
GAINESVILLE, Florida—The first win of the season is the toughest. The University of Idaho volleyball team had to go four sets Saturday morning to get it out of the way. The Vandals took three straight sets from Georgia Southern after dropping the opener, 22-25, at the O’Connell Center.
Idaho (1-2) recovered from the first set to string together wins of 26-24, 25-20, 26-24, to finish the Active Ankle Challenge on a high note. The Vandals hit a weekend best .232, totaling 59 kills in the four sets. Idaho totaled 57 total kills in its two matches on Friday.
“Every match we have played we have gotten better” head coach Debbie Buchanan said. “We played a good team. Things are starting to piece together for us. If you look at the weekend, we had hoped for two wins, but getting this win is big for us and we can build on it going into next week.”
Junior Katelyn Peterson finished with 50 attacks, 18 kills and four errors, giving her a .280 hitting percentage on the day. She finished just shy of her career-high 20 kills, set last season. Peterson earned All-Tournament honors for the weekend. She recorded 99 attacks, 33 kills and seven errors for a .263 hitting percentage over the three matches.
“Katelyn led us offensively this weekend,” Buchanan commented. “She played a big role all around for us today. It is a well-deserved honor for her."
Freshman Becca Mau made her first career start. She and sophomore Ali Forde both recorded 10 kills each. Mau played a big role on Saturday, finishing the day with 29 attacks. She added seven digs and one service ace.
“With Jenna [Ellis] being out we went with Becca so she could play all around,” Buchanan said. “It was a big role for a freshman and she did a nice job.”
Defensively, the Vandals stood tall at the net against the Eagles. The Silver and Gold finished with 11 team blocks. Individually, senior Stephanie Hagins led the team with a game-high seven blocks. Sophomore Terra Varney, filling in at libero, set a new career-high on Saturday with 23 digs. Her previous best was 15.
Idaho had a shot to take the first set. The Vandals led 22-21 late, before the Eagles strung together four straight point to steal the set. The second set featured five ties and four lead changes. The Vandals led 18-11 midway through the set. Georgia Southern fought back to tie the set at 18, and extending the lead to 20-18. Two straight points by Peterson and Mau tied the set at 20. GSU regained the lead, 24-21, of a Jamie DeRatt kill. The Vandals won the set with five consecutive points, capped off by a Mau kill.
Sets three and four were much of the same, featuring 19 ties and seven lead changes. Peterson totaled five kills in the third set to propel the Vandals. Idaho out hit GSU in the fourth set, .289 to 200. The Eagles were forced into seven errors, helping Idaho to the win.
The Vandals are back in action when they travel to Long Beach State on Thursday, Sept. 4. The match is set for 7 p.m. PT. Idaho will stay in California for a tournament hosted by UC Irvine, Sept. 5-6.