WWU opens season with two triumphs at WOU Invitational
Aug. 30, 2012
MONMOUTH, Ore. - Western Washington University showed why it was voted the Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason favorite as the Vikings opened their season with victories over Florida Southern (25-19, 25-27, 25-17, 25-18) and Cal State L.A. (25-19, 25-19, 23-25, 29-31, 15-9) in first-day action at the Western Oregon University Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Thursday at the New P.E. Building on the WOU campus.
"I'm just glad that we came out really aggressively because we've had tentative starts in the past," said WWU coach Diane Flick. "What I'm seeing is that we have a really balanced group and we can do a lot of things from a lot of different areas."
The victory over FSC (0-1) gave WWU its seventh straight season opening win, one short of the school record (1989-96). The FSC win also was the 250th in Flick's 13-year career. Her victory total of 251 and winning percentage of 78.2 are both school bests.
FSC, which reached the South Regional semifinals in 2011 with its 25th post-season appearance in 30 years, was led by Gabby Fernandez with a match-high 20 kills.
"It was a typical first match," said Flick. "We had runs of good things and runs of not so good things. It was just a matter of steadying out and getting rid of the jitters."
Outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Sr., Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) and middle blocker Kayla Erickson (So., Gig Harbor/Peninsula) each had 16 kills for the Vikings. Geary also had 15 digs and Erickson added five block assists.
"The good thing was that we were very balanced," Flick said. "Marlayna (Geary) struggled the first two games, but even with that we still performed very well. We need to have a lot of balance in our offense and Laurie (Yearout) did a good job of making sure everyone was involved."
WWU did not trail in the first set. Leading by one, 17-16, the Vikings took a timeout and scored eight of the final 11 points. McPherson had three kills and one block assist during that stretch.
Trailing 20-15 in the second set, WWU rallied to tie the match at 23-all and had a set point at 25-24 before FSC rallied for three points to tie the match at one set apiece.
The Vikings took the third set, scoring eight straight points to take an early 9-3 lead. Geary had three kills and Erickson two during that span. WWU upped its lead to as many as nine points twice, 21-12 and 22-13.
In the fourth set, an eight-point WWU lead was trimmed to four, 20-16. But the Vikings scored five of the last seven points for the victory, Moore having three kills.
McPherson had two service aces during a 5-1 run that was the difference in the first set of WWU's win over CSULA (1-1). The Vikings broke open the second set with six straight points that gave them an 18-9 lead. After dropping the third and fourth sets, they bounced back in the fifth with a 62.5 hitting percentage to get the win.
Geary had a match-high16 kills, Emily Boerger (Jr., Marysville/Marysville) and Moore 13 each and Erickson 11 and a match-high seven blocks. Hutchinson contributed 34 digs and Yearout 61 assists, both match highs.
"There's going to be times when we're going to be out of sorts, but the good thing is that we were able to collect ourselves, said Flick. "It took a while and hopefully we can shorten the times when we feel chaotic. But I'm really proud about how we came back."
On Friday, the Vikings face Grand Valley State University at 2:30 p.m. and they play Missouri Tech on Saturday at 5 p.m.
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