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Gonzaga University women's volleyball player Savannah Blinn was named to the all-tournament team.
Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

Volleyball Picks Up Second Sweep Of The Day

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 09/01/2012
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SPOKANE, Wash. - What a difference a day can make.

In Gonzaga University's opening women's volleyball match of the Gonzaga Invitational, the Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to South Dakota State University in five sets where they led the match at one point 2-0.

A night later however, the Bulldogs brushed off the tough loss and finished the second day of the tournament 2-0, both wins coming in sweeps. With the victories, Gonzaga exits the weekend with an even 3-3 record.

The latest 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-16, 25-21) came against Eastern Washington University in the tournament finale Saturday night. The consecutive wins were the first time since October 2008 that Gonzaga picked up back-to-back sweeps. On Oct. 22, 2008, GU swept Seattle University at home and then swept the University of Portland on the road three days later.

"It was nice for us to rebound and win both matches given how close we lost that one last night," fourth year head coach Dave Gantt stated. "I applaud the responses individually and collectively. Today shows what we need; we have ten to 12 people who can help this team win."

The Zags however finished the Gonzaga Invitational in second place; first place going to South Dakota State, the only team to defeat the Zags on its home court. UC Riverside and Eastern Washington rounded out the tournament with third and fourth place, respectively.

"Again, we have a young team," Gantt said. "The bulk of our contacts in our system come from younger players. Kristina Lavrisha from the libero position has come in and stabilized our serve returns and that allows us to run well. I like where this team is going."

Lavrisha, the Denver, Colo., native, finished the match 13 digs and the weekend with 53 total.

The night cap was all Bulldogs as the team looked focused as ever.

"I certainly like our response tonight," Gantt said. "We did not overreact about last night and just went back to business. This shows our growth, we did not do these things last weekend, and kudos go all around. We are doing a lot of good things right now."

The first set started unusually slow for the normally fast starting Bulldogs. Eastern Washington jumped to a quick 4-0 lead and kept that four point advantage until the Zags went on a 8-1 run and took a 17-15 lead in the set. Gonzaga and the Eagles continued to battle back and forth the rest of the set until redshirt freshman Savannah Blinn packed on three of the last four points to end the set.

The second and third sets were very similar, in that the Zags took an early lead and never looked back. In the second, Gonzaga pulled out to a seven point advantage, which forced the Eagles to burn a timeout down 14-7.

"All the coaches are on the same page in this situation," Gantt explained. "We have to handle our business to score the next point out of that timeout. We need to nullify their timeout. We prepared ourselves to score points and that helped us tonight."

Junior Meredith Crenshaw helped close the set with two timely kills and three blocks. Crenshaw finished her very efficient night with nine kills on 18 attempts along with five blocks.

Picking up where it left off, Gonzaga returned from the intermission poised to pick up the second sweep of the day. Quickly, the Zags jumped to a 12-9 edge and promptly stopped any Eagle offense. The Zags attack was in high gear all night, proven by their .300 kill percentage and out numbering the Eastern kills 47-32.

The Bulldogs closed the third and the Gonzaga Invitational was a wrap. The Zags finished 2-1 on the weekend.

Gonzaga was also represented on the all-tournament team. Named to the list for the Bulldogs was Blinn and senior rightside hitter Kylie Edinger. Blinn finished the weekend with 48 kills, a .480 kill percent, nine aces, 16 digs and seven blocks. Edinger also had a nice stat line with 30 kills, a .484 kill percentage and 10 blocks on the weekend.

The rest of the all-tournament team was rounded out by the Invitational's Most Valuable Player Kelli Fiegen of South Dakota State, Kaitlin Klingemann of South Dakota State, Amanda Vialpando of UC Riverside and Talia Fermantez from Eastern Washington.

"I like that we have played against the Big Sky, the Big West, Mountain West, the Summit League and Pacific 12 over the past two weekends," Gantt said. "Going against different styles of play is good for us. It's nice to have high caliber teams to play early in the season."

Next weekend the Bulldogs will be back in action when they travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to take part in the UNLV Classic. Their first match of the tournament is Friday at 5:00 p.m. against Texas Southern University. 

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