ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The 10th-ranked Western Washington University volleyball team concluded a successful D2 West Region Showcase with a 3-0 sweep over Chico State (27-25, 25-17, 25-16) Saturday afternoon at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Vikings (6-2) completed the ‘A’ pod of the showcase, featuring the best teams in the region, with a 3-1 record, and left Anchorage with a three-game winning streak. After opening the tournament with a loss to No. 24 California Baptist, WWU earned wins against No. 11 Cal State San Bernardino (3-2), No. 15 Concordia-Irvine (3-1) and Chico State. Chico State, an NCAA tournament team a year ago, dropped to 5-4 on the season.
“I am so proud of this team and how they got better with each match,” said head coach Diane Flick-Williams. “It was a great finish to a tough weekend."
Senior opposite Joellee Buckner (Colville, WA) recorded her fourth double-double of the season (14th career) totaling match highs with 14 kills (.583 attack pct.) and 20 digs.
“Joellee was incredible today from every side of the ball,” added Flick-Williams.
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) also turned in a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs, her sixth double-double of the season and 36 of her career.
Junior middle blocker Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) put the finishing touches on a solid tournament with 9 kills and 3 blocks, finishing the four-match week with 2.27 kills and 1.13 blocks per set. Sophomore middle blocker Joslyn Bopray (Spokane, WA/Lewis & Clark) finished with 6 kills and 5 blocks, bringing her tournament blocks average to 1.47 per set.
Overall the Vikings recorded a .312 team hitting percentage (2nd-best this season) and out-blocked the Wildcats 8.0-5.0.
Chico State was led by 11 kills from Bekah Boyle and 16 digs by Brooke Fogel.
After building an early lead at 12-8, Chico State went on a 7-2 run to pull ahead 15-14. The Vikings responded going on a 6-1 run to take a 20-16 lead, forcing CSU to take a timeout. The Wildcats used another timeout while trailing 23-19, which sparked a 3-0 run to pull to within one point at 23-22, and eventually tied the set at 24-24 and 25-25, before the Vikings rallied for a 27-25 opening-set win. Joellee Buckner led the way for WWU nearly recorded a double-double in the opening set with 7 kills (.583) and 10 digs.
The Vikings jumped out to an early lead in the second set scoring five of the first six points and built an 11-4 lead and never looked back picking up the 25-17 win to go up 2-0. Phelps recorded 5 of her 12 kills in the second set.
Western clinched the sweep with a decisive 25-16 third-set victory, pulling away from an early 4-4 tie to lead the rest of the way. Joellee Buckner and senior outside hitter Arielle Turner (Leavenworth, WA/Cascade) each had 4 kills apiece in the third set.
The Vikings closed out the non-conference portion of their schedule with an 6-2 record and open GNAC play next week on the road facing Central Washington in Ellensburg on Thursday (7 pm) and Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho on Saturday (7 pm MT).
"Earning a 6-2 record with this preseason schedule and the lessons we learned is really beneficial for us heading into GNAC play," said Flick-Williams.
WWU’s home opener inside the renovated Carver Gym will be on Sept. 19 (Tuesday) at 7 pm vs. Simon Fraser will offer free admission for all fans.
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