Volleyball Opens UNLV Classic With A Sweep
Las Vegas, Nev. - It was a night of firsts for Gonzaga University volleyball Friday night in the UNLV Classic at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.
The Bulldogs took down Texas Southern University 3-0 (25-13, 25-13,25-15) in the first match ever between the two programs and the first time fourth-year head coach Dave Gantt started four freshmen.
"This is the first time we have won three matches 3-0, but also the first time I can remember getting all 12 of our players significant time in a match," Gantt said. "We can be a good team, but we will need 10 to 12 of our players to get where we want to be. This was a good start."
In addition, it is the first time the Bulldogs have won three consecutive matches 3-0 under Gantt. Last weekend the Bulldogs swept UC Riverside and Eastern Washington University at the Gonzaga Invitational.
Friday night freshmen Lauren Joseph, Jordan Gasser, Kalistina Takau and Savannah Blinn got the starting nod along with junior Meredith Crenshaw, junior Kristina Lavrisha and senior Kylie Edinger. However it was the performance from the freshmen that stood out.
"We came to this tournament to get some of our freshmen more playing experience," Gantt said. "We accomplished this in the first match and they performed at a high level at times."
Overall, the freshmen finished the night with a combined 13 kills, 20 digs and an impressive 10 aces.
"The good thing about the aces tonight is that we only had five serving errors," Gantt said. "Our serve to error ratio is huge, it just does not happen like that. Deanna Nielson and Savannah were hitting their spots. It's good for the freshmen moving forward."
The Bulldogs were happy with what they saw early, both offensively and defensively. Gonzaga built an early 16-6 lead before Texas Southern took a timeout.
Both teams exchanged points until Edinger hit a well-placed ball down the middle to win the set 25-13. Edinger finished the match with team-high 11 kills.
Gonzaga came out just as aggressive in the second set and wasted no time getting a comfortable lead. Texas Southern called a timeout with the Bulldogs up 14-5, but it failed to slow the Zags. The Bulldogs prevented the Lady Tigers from cutting into lead and Gonzaga polished off a dominate set 25-13.
The Lady Tigers were not about to let the Bulldogs walk away with a victory, and they jumped to an early lead in the final set. Texas Southern opened 4-0 on the Zags before Gonzaga found its rhythm. The Bulldogs tied the set at 11-11 before going on a 14-4 run to complete the sweep.
"We started the third set with some players who had not played yet and unfortunately our level of play went down," Gantt said. "We talked to the team about opportunities and when you get one you need to take advantage of it. We need to do a better job of taking advantage of those situations as a team and individuals."
However, after the match Gantt was impressed with libero Lavrisha,
calling her "the glue for us."
"In terms of playing volleyball tonight, I liked what Kristina did," Gantt said. "She is playing like the libero we were hoping for. She shows up ready to play, performs at a high level and as a mature player. She did this in the preseason and thus far into the season. We need it from her and are happy we are getting it from her."
Lavrisha finished the night with five digs and three assists.
"It's a win," Gantt said. "We played well enough to take the victory. Every player on our roster got into a match with significant time and got to run our system. For the rest of the weekend we need to continue to run our system and not let unorthodox play on the other side of the net distract us."
With the victory, the Zags bumped their record to 4-3.
Gonzaga is back in action Saturday at 10 a.m. when they face Prairie View A&M University and then close the UNLV Classic at 5 p.m. against host UNLV.