BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The 13th-ranked Western Washington University volleyball team played its first match inside Carver Gym in two years, and was welcomed back to the renovated on-campus facility with a 3-1 victory over Simon Fraser Tuesday night in front of 1,289 fans in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference match on WECU Court.
The Vikings improved to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in GNAC play with the 25-18, 22-25, 25-12, 25-17 victory over the Clan. Simon Fraser drops to 3-8 overall and 0-3 in league play.
"What a great crowd and great energy in our first game back at Carver," said 18th-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams. "To see our community and student-athletes support us like this means a lot. After a few early jitters, we settled down and fed off the crowd for a very good win."
Junior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) matched her career highs in kills and digs, recording her ninth double-double of the season with 19 kills and 31 digs. She also recorded one service ace and block assist to finish with 20.5 points.
Junior middle blocker Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) finished with 18 kills on a .441 hitting percentage, also contributing 6 block assists for a match-high 21.0 points.
"Michaela has been a steady presence for us, not only in statistical categories, but just her personality and the confidence she brings to the court," added Flick-Williams. "It is great to see because she has really grown into that role and I am really proud of the person she has become."
Sophomore middle blocker Joslyn Bopray (Spokane, WA/Lewis & Clark) reached double-digits in kills for the first time in her career, notching 10 kills on a .500 hitting percentage. Junior setter Brette Boesel (Brewster, WA) also had a career night with 53 assists, and reached the double-double with 11 digs.
"It was a great all-around match for our team, with great contributions from everyone," said Flick-Williams. "We came out of the NNU match (3-1 loss) with a great attitude and identified what we needed to work on, and did that in practice. I am proud of how they responded."
The Clan were led by 11 kills each from Christine Howlett, Tessa May and Kirsten Pinkney.
The Vikings overcame an early 8-3 deficit in the first set to take the opener 25-18 to go up 1-0 in the match. Trailing by five points, WWU went on a 9-4 run to tie the game at 12-12. After being tied 15-15, the Vikings took the lead on an SFU attack error and never looked back closing out the set on a 10-3 run. Phelps led all players with 7 kills in the set (.438) and Aubrey Buckner (Colville, WA) had 7 digs.
WWU battled back in the second set after trailing early, going on a late 6-0 run to take a 21-19 lead. But the Clan held tough to pull even at 22-22, and ended on a 5-0 run to win 25-22 and even the match 1-1. Hall had 7 kills, while Phelps had 6 kills for WWU. May led SFU with 5 kills on a .714 hitting percentage in the set.
Fueled by an early 5-0 run, Western jumped out to a 11-3 lead in the third set, and never looked back to go up 2-1 with a 25-12 win. Led by Hall's 5 kills, WWU out-hit SFU .306 to .027 in the set.
WWU raced out to an 11-5 lead in the fourth set, but SFU rallied to go on a 7-4 run to cut the lead to three points at 15-12. The Vikings responded with a 7-2 run to help seal the match en route to the 25-17 fourth-set victory.
WWU out-hit SFU .254 to .162 for the match, and held a 9.0 to 6.0 edge in blocks. The match featured 11 tie scores (8 in first two sets) and 10 lead changes).
WWU returns to action Thursday hosting Montana State Billings at 7 pm on WECU Court at 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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