Best Offensive Efficiency in a Decade Boosts VB
Sept. 26, 2015



SPOKANE, Wash.--With an offensive efficiency unseen in over 10 years, the Gonzaga University volleyball team swept past Saint Mary's 3-0 Saturday afternoon at the Martin Centre in Spokane.

The Bulldogs posted a .489 attack percentage against the Gaels, the highest in any match since at least 2004. They reached the mark with 56 kills - the third-most in a three set match over the same period - and just 10 errors in 94 attempts. Senior Jordan Gasser led the way by hitting a blistering .714, the best attack percentage by an individual in at least the last 12 seasons (minimum 20 attempts).  Gasser posted 16 kills and just one attack error in 21 swings. Three other Zags saw attack percentages above .500, including senior Savannah Blinn's .625, redshirt junior Imani Wimbush's .583, and redshirt junior Paige Folger's .571.

The Zags worked most efficiently in the first set, taking the frame 25-15 on a 0.93 sideout percentage and .581 hitting percentage. Wimbush was a perfect 5-for-5 in her first set attacks, and four other Bulldogs hit .500 or better in the frame. Gonzaga began the match by taking a 6-1 lead during the first seven points. Back-to-back kills from Gasser gave the Zags a 10 point lead at 17-7, and the two sides matched each other point for point until GU clinched the set on a block from Folger and Gasser.

Saint Mary's took the first point in set two, but the Zags countered by winning the next nine, picking up three kills from Blinn and two block assists from both Blinn and Wimbush. The Gaels pulled within five at 15-10, but Gonzaga didn't let the visitors get any closer during the frame, which ended at 25-17 Gonzaga. Blinn ended the frame with six kills and a .750 set hitting percentage, and the Zags totaled four blocks during the frame, three of which came from Wimbush.

During the fourth set, the Gaels pushed Gonzaga early, taking a 1-4 lead coming out of the intermission. The Zags won the next three points to tie the match at 4-all, but they didn't take their first lead of the set until Blinn tallied three consecutive kills for a 10-8 advantage. Gonzaga held that lead throughout the rest of the frame, but the Gaels kept pushing, pulling within three at 20-17. Gasser's 16th and final kill of the match clinched the set at 25-19 and match at 3-0 for Gonzaga, advancing the Zags to 2-0 in West Coast Conference play.

Bulldog Bites

  • After beating both No. 23 Pacific and Saint Mary's during the opening weekend of conference play, the Zags are 2-0 in the WCC for the first time since 1991. That season, they opened conference play with wins over Saint Mary's and San Francisco, also at home. They've twice opened WCC play with a 3-0 record, winning the first four conference matches in both 1989 and 1990.
  • As stated above, the Zags' .489 attack percentage against the Gaels is GU's best since at least 2004. Their previous best during that time span came Sept. 14, 2007 when the Bulldogs hit .457 against Alcorn State. It is the second time they've hit above .400 as a team this season, hitting .409 against Niagara Sept. 11 in Phoenix.
  • Gasser's top attack percentage of the last 11 years (min. 20 attempts) is obviously the senior's career high, but Blinn also set a career high with her .625 attack percentage. That percentage is the third highest since 2004 with only Briawna Mueller's .636 mark from August 25, 2007, separating the two. Blinn now has five of the 10 highest attack percentages (min. 20 attempts) since 2004.
  • The Zags assisted 53 of their 56 kills on the day, tied for the most in a three set match since 2004. They also dished out 53 assists versus Southern Utah on Sept. 12 of this season. Freshman Faith Smith led the way with 29 assists, equaling her season high, while sophomore Nikki Leonard added 17. Junior McKayla Ferris added four more, a career mark for the outside hitter.
  • Defensively, the Zags again outblocked their opponent, blocking eight shots compared to Saint Mary's' six. Wimbush led the way with six blocks - three solo, three assisted - and Blinn assisted on three as well. Junior Emmy Allen led GU's back row play with 16 digs, the most of her Gonzaga career, and freshman Tiyana Hallums reached double digits as well, digging up 10 balls.
  • The Zags have now beaten Saint Mary's twice in a row; they also beat the Gaels 3-1 in Moraga, Calif., on Nov. 13 of last season. This is the first 3-0 win over Saint Mary's in 17 years, however. The last Bulldog sweep of the Gaels came Oct. 23, 1998 in Spokane.

Zag Speak

Gonzaga head coach Dave Gantt

"We exhibited pretty steady play over all seven sets, including Thursday and today. We were pretty darn good in serve/receive.  We took a bit of an edge off today ... defensively we missed a few plays, but overall we were certainly tough enough."

"Any time you can side out at 80% over the course of three sets, it's going to be difficult to stop a team. That was our personality today; let's get this offense fine-tuned, especially at home. I thought we - and Coach Allen said it best - we set a standard in the first set and didn't get to some things defensively in the second and the third. I'm not complaining, though, because it's great to have something to work on. Kudos to our kids; all year long our team has been listening to what we have to say in practice, and we've been pretty intentional about having those things surface in matches."

Next Up

The Bulldogs (11-4, 2-0 WCC) hit the road for their first WCC road matches of the season. They start the road trip with a 7:00 p.m. contest at San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 1. They'll wrap up the brief trip to the Bay Area on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Santa Clara.

 

 


 

 

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