Zags Clinch Winning Season with Four-Set Victory
Nov. 17, 2016

Box Score

SPOKANE, Wash.--With a four-set win that was tense until the final play, the Gonzaga University volleyball team clinched its third consecutive winning season Thursday night, downing Pacific 3-1 (25-17, 25-27, 25-18, 25-23) at the Martin Centre in Spokane.

The Bulldogs took an early match lead, winning the first set by eight points. Up 12-10, McKayla Ferris earned a sideout, and the Zags took two more points on a pair of errant Tiger attacks. Two points later, the Zags launched another small run with two more errors sandwiching a block from Emmy Allen and Sarah Bradley. That put the score at 18-12 in favor of the home team. After a few more tallies by both squads, Ferris pounded two more kills to give the Zags set point, and the Bulldogs eventually took the set on a block.

Pacific tied the match by coming from behind to take set No. 2 25-27, but the Zags responded by winning the third 25-18. They stormed out to a 9-4 lead early in the frame and never trailed again. The Tigers did come back within one at three different instances, but the Zags responded to the last one with a four-tally run, getting a kill from Allen and three on Pacific errors. After swapping the next three points for a 22-18 advantage, the Zags closed out the frame to go up two sets to one.

In the fourth, the Tigers jumped out to a two-point lead after the frame's first 10 points, but the Zags rallied, using a 5-1 stretch with a couple errors, a block from Imani Wimbush and Katelyn Oppio, and a kill from each of them to take the lead. After that, the Zags didn't trail again in the match, but the Tigers didn't fade away, either. With the score tied at 19-all, Gonzaga used another 4-1 stretch to take a three-point lead, but the Tigers responded with three in a row to re-tie the set at 23. After the tying service ace from Andie Shelton, Bradley and Paige Folger combined for a block and a sideout to give the Zags match point. That match point was a tense rally which included a big diving save from Morgan Douglass to keep the ball alive. Gonzaga's defense absorbed the next Pacific attack, and Ferris finished the match off with a kill, her 15th of the night.

Bulldog Bites:

  • The win advanced Gonzaga's record to 15-11 overall with just two matches remaining in the regular season. This is the first time the Bulldogs have posted three consecutive winning records since 1988-1990, a span of 26 seasons. Also, the win gives the Bulldogs eight victories during West Coast Conference play, equaling the program's best tally since the 1994 season.
  • Gonzaga blocked 15.0 Pacific attacks Thursday night, equaling the Zags' best in WCC play this season and just one off from their overall season high. Oppio was involved in nine of them, setting a career record and equaling the most by a Zag this season. Bradley added five blocks, equaling her personal best, while Wimbush also blocked five attacks. Gonzaga entered the night second in the conference in blocks per set, and the Zags have now out-blocked their opponents in 16 matches this season.
  • Douglass added 19 digs, leading the Zags' defense and passing game once again. That's the senior's second-highest total and 10th match with double-digit digs this season. Setters Faith Smith and Tessie Powers added 13 and 12, respectively, each posting double-doubles in assists and digs. In all, Gonzaga dug up 67 attacks on the night, third-most in a four-set match in 2016.
  • Freshman Maddy Jemes made her collegiate debut, coming in late in the second set to serve. She's the seventh Bulldog to make her first career appearance this year.

Zag Speak: Thoughts from Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson

  • "[The Bulldogs] persevered, they pushed through, they played with composure, and they believed in each other. That's what we relied on, and that's what we've relied on all season. Kudos to them for playing through when it could have been a decision to go either way."
  • "We started off with a game plan to serve tough, and it was definitely working for us. Then we started serving so tough we were missing serves, and we were playing such great defense that we went back to letting that team [Pacific] make mistakes. It worked in our favor."

Next Up:

The Bulldogs (15-11, 8-8 WCC) will wrap up the 2016 home slate on Saturday, Nov. 19 with a contest against Saint Mary's. That will begin at 12:00 p.m., again in the Martin Centre. Before the match, Gonzaga's six seniors - Allen, Bradley, Douglass, Ferris, Folger, and Wimbush - will be honored for their service to Gonzaga volleyball over the years.



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