No.6 Western opens GNAC play with sweep of Montana State Billings
Sept. 20, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Outside hitter Megan Amundson (So., Stanwood) led a balanced attack with 10 kills as the nationally ranked Western Washington University volleyball team swept Montana State University Billings, 25-23, 25-20, 25-18, in its home and Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener Saturday on Haggen Court at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
The Vikings, rated No.6 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, remained unbeaten at 9-0, the best start in school history.
It was the 17th consecutive GNAC victory for Western, the defending conference champion, and the 10th straight home triumph for the Vikings, who have won 75 of 81 matches at Carver Gym since 2000.
MSU Billings fell to 2-12 overall and 0-2 in league action. Devon Crotteau had a match-high 15 kills for the Yellowjackets, and Jennifer Boe added 13 kills. Middle blockers Angie Alvord (Sr., Laurel/Meridian) and Tiana Roma (Sr., Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) and outside hitter Shanley Besett (Sr., University Place/Curtis) each had nine kills for Western, with Alvord adding a match-high five blocks.
The Vikings never trailed in the opening set, jumping to a 5-1 advantage and at one point holding a 22-17 lead. MSU Billings used a 6-2 run to close to within 24-23, but Western ended the set out with a kill by Alvord.
After falling behind 3-0 in the second set, Western used a 12-6 run to take a 12-9 lead and pulled away from there. In the third frame, the Vikings used a string of six points to take the lead for good at 12-7. Roma had four kills in the final set, including the match-winner.
Western, which was the NCAA II national runner-up last year, has won 30 of its last 31 matches. The lone loss was 3-1 to Concordia-St. Paul in the NCAA II championship match.
The Vikings entertain arch-rival Central Washington University on Thursday (7 p.m.).
Western smack Yellowjacket in GNAC opener
By JOE SUNNEN, Bellinmgham Herald Sports Staff
The Western Washington University volleyball team doesn't have to worry about becoming complacent.
After extending its school record best start to 9-0 with a three set sweep of Montana State University Billings on Saturday, Sept. 20, to open Great Northwest Athletic Conference play, the feeling after the match was more one of frustration than elation.
Such are the lofty goals the team has set for itself after finishing runner-up at the national tournament last season and starting conference play ranked No. 6 in the nation.
"It's been a great start," senior Angie Alvord said. "But how we feel about it is a little shaky. We've been winning, but we haven't been playing to our full potential, in our eyes at least. We're excited, but we have a lot of stuff to work on."
The Vikings (9-0, 1-0) didn't exactly storm past the Yellowjackets at Carver Gym, but it was a match WWU controlled from the opening serve. Western never trailed past the 10th point in any of the sets, and other than a late rally by Montana State Billings (2-12, 0-2) in the first set, weren't threatened.
WWU won the match 25-23, 25-20, 25-18.
"We're finding ways to win even though we're not necessarily firing on all cylinders," WWU coach Diane Flick said. "Maybe that's just the coach in me talking, but I'm just glad we keep fighting for wins. We'll take them anyway we can get them."
"We were celebrating, at least we were trying to celebrate, but we knew we should be doing different things," Alvord said. "On our own side of court it was a struggle. It's hard to celebrate when you feel like, 'I finally got a kill.'"
Frustrations aside it was a good way for the defending GNAC champion Vikings to start conference play. It was also a nice homecoming for WWU after two long roads trips that saw the Vikings win back-to-back tournaments and knock off No. 12 Minnesota-Duluth.
"We didn't really bring very much energy to this one," Flick said. "I don't think it was our opponent, I think it was more a combination of nerves and just trying to figure out what it's like to play at home with so many new players. This is only our second time on this court, so in some ways it's kind of a foreign court for us, too."
The Vikings next host Central Washington University on Thursday, Sept. 25, before hitting the road for a match against Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.
"I wish we would have learned a couple more things in tournament play, but we're always anxious to get to conference play and get rolling," Flick said. "We just hope that we're up for next week because we have some big challenges."
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