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Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics

Volleyball Sweeps UC Riverside In Tempe

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 09/15/2012
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TEMPE, Ariz. - The Gonzaga University women's volleyball team won its third match of the ASU Sheraton Invitational Saturday when it swept UC Riverside (25-20, 25-13, 25-20).

The Bulldogs are now 8-4 with five of the wins sweeps.

"We did a lot of things in this match that we did not do in yesterday's matches," fourth-year head coach Dave Gantt said. "We came out ready to play and that subtle difference makes a major impact in our performance. If we can manage to control our side of the net, we can play at a level to keep us in any match."

The match-up was the second time the Bulldogs have faced UC Riverside. Gonzaga swept the Highlanders Sept. 1, at the Gonzaga Invitational.

"I was a little nervous seeing them again," Gantt stated. "They are a very high volleyball IQ team, but I felt we played a better match today than we did in Spokane. We were able to do things differently than we normally do and we got our middles involved early. It was good to see."

Unlike the matches Friday that resulted in two comebacks, Gonzaga came out ready to play and took care of business.

The Bulldogs quickly jumped on the Highlanders in the first two sets. In the first, GU built a 6-1 lead and in the second the Zags dominated with a 14-2 advantage. Consistent play from redshirt freshman Savannah Blinn and sophomore Katie Rutherford helped establish the early leads.

"With Katie or any setter, you like to see a varied set distribution," Gantt explained. "The ball was going to multiple hitters. She had options and she kept making good decisions. She got our middles involved and it opened the outside hitters for us."

Blinn had five kills in the first and two aces then three kills and two blocks in the second. Rutherford continued her setting success from Friday with nine assists in the first and six in the second.

UC Riverside came out strong in the third set with three kills from Amanda Vialpando. Gonzaga battled back to tie the score at 12 forcing UC Riverside to take a timeout.

Following the timeout, the teams traded points until the score was tied 19-19. Three consecutive attack errors by the Highlanders gave the Zags a 22-19 advantage, prompting another UCR timeout.

The match concluded with a Rutherford set to a Meredith Crenshaw attack that the Highlander defense was unable to stop.

"This was the best match we played all weekend," Gantt said.

Gonzaga had consistency up and down the roster. Leading the team in kills was Blinn with 12, followed by Crenshaw's six. Rutherford finished with 20 assists and four Zags finished with five or more digs.

The Bulldogs also out-blocked the Highlanders 18-2.

"Our defense and block was timely," Gantt said. "When we can force them to attack us where we want, we can control our situations. We are right where I wanted us to be going into our last match.

"I will treat the ASU match as if it was a conference game. We need to set the tone on preparing for a team like we will see in conference and carry over everything we established against UC Riverside."

The Bulldogs play their final match of the ASU Sheraton Invitational at 8 p.m. against host Arizona State University.     

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