Volleyball Opens Season With 3-2 Win Over Portland State
SEATTLE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's volleyball team kicked off the 2012 season by winning 3-2 over Portland State University in the opening match of the Northwest Challenge hosted by the University of Washington Friday.
The Bulldogs prevailed 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 19-25, 17-15 in beating the Vikings for the second straight season in the Northwest Challenge. The victory also marks the fourth time in the past six years the Zags have earned a season-opening win.
"Last year we won the opening match and it was nice for our seniors," fourth-year head coach Dave Gantt said. "I think this year is more significant because of all the freshmen we had on the floor for most of the match. Anytime we can go through a match like this, with the seniors not giving up and the freshmen carrying along in a wave of persistence, it's a good thing for us."
Freshmen Savannah Blinn and Jordan Gasser led the way for the Bulldogs in the tough win. Combined, the two accounted for 28 of the teams 57 kills and Blinn clinched the win in the fifth set with her 14th kill of the match.
"We set it up on match point so that if we got a transition ball, Savannah was going to get a swing," Gantt said. "She got the kill which is great for her."
Gasser also provided 18 digs, which were second to junior libero Kristina Lavrisha's 22. Sophomore libero Kennedy Wesley and freshman setter Lauren Joseph also picked up double-digit digs, Wesley with 15 and Joseph with 14.
Joseph also led the team with 32 assists in the five-set match and played a large role in the second set with 10 assists and two service aces.
"After missing a couple of early practices, she came back and was working toward getting back on the court," Gantt said. "By Monday of this week she was setting a little bit and tonight she was starting and setting three rotations for us. She is more mature than you might expect and was impressive all night."
The Bulldogs were able to make the necessary plays to close out the fifth set that plagued them in the third and fourth. There were nine ties in the decisive fifth set before the Zags ran off three consecutive points for the win.
"The mindset tonight was to do things that only benefited us," Gantt said. "Our own errors put us in our position for the fifth set. In the heat of battle, we surfaced. I like that we stuck with it and we bent but did not break at key times in the set."
Gantt was also pleased with the performances from junior middle blocker Meredith Crenshaw with her .250 kill percentage, senior outside hitter Terran Poindexter with her nine kills and senior right side hitter Kylie Edinger with her seven kills and eight block assists.
Gonzaga returns to action Saturday when they face host Washington at noon and conclude play against Boise State University at 4:30 p.m.