NAMPA, Idaho - The 10th-ranked Western Washington University volleyball team won the opening set at Northwest Nazarene, but couldn't hold off the undefeated Crusaders falling in four sets (25-21, 21-25, 20-25, 17-25) Saturday night in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action at the Johnson Sports Center.
The Vikings dropped just their third match of the young season, falling to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in GNAC play. WWU went 1-1 on its first GNAC road trip of the season, beating rival Central Washington 3-1 on Thursday. After opening the year with 10 consecutive road matches, the Vikings will return to Bellingham for the home opener Tuesday vs. Simon Fraser. The Crusaders continued their undefeated season improving to 10-0 overall and 2-0 in GNAC play.
"NNU played a great match tonight, we just made some errors at key times that made a difference in terms of momentum," said head coach Diane Flick-Williams. "This gives us a great opportunity to identify things we need to work on and get after it in practice."
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) continued her solid start to the season, registering her eighth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 19 digs.
Junior middle blocker Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) recorded 13 kills on a .321 hitting percentage, and added 2 blocks for the Vikings.
"Michaela was a steady presence for us and gave us a spark when we needed it," added Flick-Williams.
Junior opposite Joellee Buckner (Colville, WA) added a double-double with 10 kills and 14 digs, and sophomore middle blocker Joslyn Bopray recorded a team-high 8 blocks. Junior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) had 45 assists and 10 digs.
Western got off to a good start winning the opening set 25-21, out-hitting NNU .217 to .065 and holding a 6-1 edge in blocks.
The Crusaders battled back to take the second set 25-21 to even the match 1-1. NNU held a 21-13 lead, but the Vikings put together a 5-0 run to close to within three points at 21-18. After WWU pulled to within two points at 23-21, NNU closed out the set with consecutive points.
The Vikings had the early advantage in the third set pulling ahead 13-8, but NNU rallied after calling a timeout to go on an 8-3 run to pull even a 16-16. With WWU leading 19-18, NNU went on a 7-1 run to take the set 25-20 and go up 2-1 in the match.
With momentum back on their side, the Crusaders jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the deciding fourth set and never looked back to seal the match with a 25-17 win.
Mari Thomas led the Crusaders with 20 kills (.318 attack pct.) and 14 digs, while Madi Farrell added 18 kills and 10 blocks. Kendra Bodine also registered a double-double with 14 kills and a match high 27 digs. Setter Hailey Cook tallied a match-high 53 assists and also contributed 14 digs.
WWU faces a quick turnaround returning to conference play Tuesday hosting Simon Fraser at 7 pm on WECU Court at Carver Gym. The match will feature free admission for the first competition inside the renovated Carver Gym. The match will be streamed live online at WWUVikings.com/Live and available via the GNAC channel on several streaming devices (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, AndroidTV).
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