Zags Split Day, Take Second at Gonzaga Invitational
Sept. 2, 2017
SPOKANE, Wash.--The Gonzaga volleyball team ended its own Gonzaga Invitational Saturday by splitting a pair of matches inside the Martin Centre in Spokane. The Bulldogs began the day with a sweep of Nevada but lost to Portland State in the tournament's de facto championship match.
"We didn't present ourselves the way we intended to against Portland State...but earlier we did," said Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson. "We responded well play after play after play. Our serving, our offense, our set decisions, it was easier to break the other teams this weekend [Nevada and Arizona State] than against Portland State. We're learning right now, and that's what the preseason is all about."
The Bulldogs saw their most efficient offensive match this season in the morning session. The Zags outhit Nevada .343 to .173 and landed 15 more kills than the visiting Wolf Pack. Redshirt junior Kaylie Loewen led all players with 11 kills, and five other Zags tallied at least six. Senior Alyse Whitaker, meanwhile, hit an efficient .667, the best mark in the match.
GU also topped the Wolf Pack in assists (47-30) and digs (45-33), but the visitors from Reno, Nevada out-blocked the Zags 8.0 to 7.0.
Gonzaga led the entire way during the first and second sets, seeing just three tie scores in the first and two in the second. In the third, Nevada pulled out to a three-point lead in the middle of the frame and led as late as 18-19, but a six-point Gonzaga run with the serve of junior Marit Thorkildsen confirmed the sweep, the Zags' first of the season.
With both Portland State and Gonzaga entering the match with 2-0 records on the weekend, Saturday's nightcap determined who would leave Spokane with the Gonzaga Invitational crown. Portland State claimed that title with strong performances, leading the Zags in nearly every category. GU did out-dig the Vikings 39-37, but offensive efficiency again was a key factor as Portland State hit .309 and the Zags hit .056.
The Vikings' Caitlin Bettenay clinched Tournament MVP honors with 13 kills and five digs, while the Zags' Tiyana Hallums was second-highest on the floor with 10 kills, her second match in double figures of the season. Thorkildsen led all players with 18 digs.
Loewen was named to the All-Tournament team after 32 kills on a .312 attack percentage and nine blocks over the weekend. It's her second consecutive week on the All-Tournament team. The Penticton, B.C. native leads the squad in both kills and blocks on the young season.
Gonzaga (2-4) will return to the road next weekend at the GCU Tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. They'll face Idaho and Fordham along with host school Grand Canyon in that tournament, which begins on Friday, Sept. 8 against the Vandals.
Gonzaga Invitational All-Tournament Team
MVP: Caitlin Bettenay, Portland State
Katy Wilson, Portland State
Kaylie Loewen, Gonzaga
Oluoma Okaro, Arizona State
Shayla Hoeft, Nevada
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11/02/2017 - Zags Start Road Trip with Loss at LMU
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10/28/2017 - Zags Once Again Play Five in Loss to Santa Clara
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