ANCHORAGE, Alaska – In a battle of two teams ranked among the top 15 in the nation, the No. 10 Western Washington University volleyball team used a total team effort to record a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over 11th-ranked Cal State San Bernardino Friday afternoon in the D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase held at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Vikings prevailed with game scores of 25-19, 20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 25-12 to improve to 4-2 on the season and 1-1 in the D2 West Region Showcase. The Coyotes evened their season record at 3-3 with the loss, and have dropped three of the last four matches against WWU.
WWU’s comeback win was highlighted by 17.0 team blocks, the most since recording 20.0 during the 2015 season, and tied for 7th-most in a match dating back to 1998. WWU also tallied a season-high 12 service aces.
“This was a complete team effort, especially in the fifth set,” said head coach Diane Flick-Williams, in her 18th year leading the program. “The Buckner sisters were outstanding in the back row today and Abby (Phelps) was dialed in on the service line. We got a lot of good contributions out of several players, and we needed that down the stretch. Just an all-around good team win and we’ll regroup and prepare for another tough match tonight.”
Sophomore middle blocker Joslyn Bopray (Spokane, WA/Lewis & Clark) recorded a career-high 10 blocks (1 solo, 9 block assists) and junior middle blocker Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) recorded 7 blocks (and 12 kills).
Senior opposite Joellee Buckner (Colville, WA) inched towards a triple double with 10 kills, 29 digs and 6 blocks, and also recorded a career-high 4 service aces. Buckner served out the win for the Vikings recording consecutive service aces for points 14 and 15 in the deciding fifth set.
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) tallied her fourth double-double of the season with 15 kills and 15 digs, and added a career-high 4 service aces.
Sophomore opposite Kazlyn Roullier (Spokane Valley, WA/Central Valley) sparked the comeback contributing all 7 of her kills in the fourth and fifth sets, including a team-high 4 kills in the deciding fifth set. Junior libero Aubrey Buckner (Colville, WA) helped anchor the defense with 27 digs.
“Kazlyn gave us the lift and production we needed in those final sets, which was huge for us to make the comeback,” added Flick-Williams.
Junior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) led the offense with a match-high 48 assists, and recorded the double-double adding 10 digs.
“Brette ran the right people at the right time,” said Flick-Williams.
The Vikings took the opening set 25-19 leading nearly wire-to-wire to go up 1-0. WWU jumped out to an early 7-1 lead, and after the Coyotes pulled to within two points at 13-11, pulled away to never lead by less than three points. Phelps had 3 kills and 2 service aces, and Hall had 3 kills and 3 block assists to lead the Vikings.
The Coyotes evened things up with a 25-20 second-set victory, using a 5-1 run to pull away from a 16-16 tie.
CSUSB forged ahead 2-1 winning the third set 25-20. With the game tied 11-11, the Coyotes went on a 8-2 run to take a 19-13 lead, and led 24-15. After the Vikings held off five consecutive set points, San Bernardino prevailed with the winning point coming out of a timeout.
WWU forced the deciding fifth set with a dominating 25-15 victory in the fourth game. The Vikings trailed early 5-4, but went on a 7-0 run and never looked back. After CSUSB climbed to within three points at 12-9, the Vikings went on an 8-0 run to put the game away.
The Vikings led for most of the early part of the deciding fifth set, but the Coyotes fought back to tie the game at 11-11 and 12-12. The Coyotes called a timeout while trailing 13-12 to try to gain momentum, but Joellee Buckner recorded back-to-back aces to give WWU the 15-12 win and 3-2 victory in the match.
The Vikings return to action later today at the D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase facing No. 15 Concordia-Irvine at 5:30 pm in Anchorage (6:30 pm PT). WWU closes out tournament play tomorrow facing Chico State (4:30 pm PT/3:30 pm AKT). All games can be streamed and followed via live stats at GNAC.tv.
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