Zags Close 2016 in Thrilling Fashion
Nov. 21, 2016

Box Score

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Gonzaga University volleyball team saw an exciting end to the 2016 season Monday as the Bulldogs twice came back against Portland, beating the Pilots in five sets (17-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11) to clinch the squad’s best record since 1990.

The Pilots jumped out to an early lead in the match, winning eight of the first nine points and extending that margin to 10 at 3-13. The Zags were able to rally within five at the 15-20 mark, but Portland closed out the first set 17-25.

In the second, Gonzaga used a four-point run to open up a permanent set advantage. With the score tied at 6-6, McKayla Ferris landed back-to-back kills, and both Katelyn Oppio and Imani Wimbush scored during the run as well. Portland was able to cut its deficit in half at 13-11, but another three-point stretch for GU halted the Pilots’ momentum. The Zags closed out the frame at 25-19, and Ferris landed her 1,000th kill during the set as well.

Coming out of the break, the third set was tightly contested with eight tie scores and five lead changes, but the Zags scored five in a row to take a 19-16 advantage. They held that margin up to 22-19, but Portland stunned the visitors by winning the final six points and taking a 2-1 match lead.

The fourth set was once again a tight one. The Pilots did take a four-point advantage early in the frame, but the Zags erased that with four straight tallies, tying the frame at 11-all. After the teams traded points to a 16-16 tie, Ferris landed a kill and went back to serve. She served up two more points for Gonzaga, and the Bulldogs held on to win the frame 25-22.

In the deciding fifth set, the Bulldogs took an early 4-1 lead, scoring off two blocks and two kills. The Pilots won the next two and then eventually tied the frame at 7-7, but Ferris gave the Zags the lead again with a kill, and an errant Pilot attack put the Zags back up by two. After a brief sideout, the Zags won the next three tallies, including a kill each from Wimbush and Emmy Allen. Portland won the next two to halve its’ deficit at 13-11, but Wimbush earned a sideout after a GU timeout, and the Zags scored the clincher when another Portland attack went wide.

Bulldog Bites:

  • Gonzaga finished the season with a 17-11 record overall and 10-8 mark in West Coast Conference play. That’s their best conference record since 1994, and they’ll finish in the top half of the conference (tied for third with a Loyola Marymount loss to BYU Tuesday, Nov. 22; tied for fourth with a Loyola Marymount win) for the first time since that season as well. Their .607 overall win percentage is the program’s highest since the 1990 season.
  • Ferris became one of 14 Bulldogs to reach 1,000 kills mark Monday. Seven have reached the mark since rally scoring was adopted for the 2001 season. The senior from Chandler, Arizona, ended her career 13th on the program’s all-time kills list with 1,007.
  • The Zags posted 93 digs in the match, equaling the most by any Bulldog squad since 2010. They also dug up 93 attacks Sept. 14, 2012, versus Villanova. Five Zags saw double-digits in the category Monday night, marking the second time this season that happened. Libero Morgan Douglass led the way with 19, while Allen set a season high with 16. Ferris was just one off her yearly best with 13, while both Tiyana Hallums and Faith Smith also reached 10.
  • Joining in the defensive efforts, the Bulldogs’ netminders blocked 14.0 Portland attacks, reaching double digits for the 12th match of the year and third in a row. Senior Sarah Bradley led the way with eight, setting a career high in her final collegiate match. Wimbush equaled her season high with six, and Paige Folger added four. Folger wrapped up her career No. 6 in Gonzaga history with 389 total blocks.
  • Gonzaga has now won the last eight matches against its Pacific Northwest foe. While three of the six GU seniors – Bradley, Wimbush, and Folger – were on the team during the last loss in 2012, they each redshirted the year and did not play. No current Bulldog has played in a loss to Portland.

Zag Speak: Thoughts from Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson

  • “I thought we needed to get our rhythm back entering the fourth set. We needed tough serving and steady passing, and we did that.”
  • “This team doesn’t let the game go; they fight for each other. They don’t believe until it’s over. They don’t want to let each other down. We truly got better throughout the match.”

Next Up:

With the end of the regular season, the Zags will now look towards 2017. They say goodbye to six seniors – Allen, Bradley, Douglass, Ferris, Folger, and Wimbush – but return 10 underclassmen. For the latest information on Gonzaga volleyball, visit or follow the team on Twitter at @ZagsVball.



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