Vikings tied for first place after sweep of Western Oregon

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Marlayna Geary
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Marlayna Geary
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Sept. 29, 2012

Box Score

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University moved into a tie for first place by sweeping league leader Western Oregon University, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball match Saturday night at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.

The Vikings, ranked No.17 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll, improved to 12-2 overall and are tied atop the GNAC standings at 5-1 with Central Washington.

WOU, which had a five-match winning streak snapped, dropped to 10-3 overall and 3-1 in league action. The Wolves were led by Danielle Reese with a match-high 20 kills. The victory was the ninth straight at home for WWU, which is 4-0 at Carver Gym this season. The Vikings, coached by Diane Flick (13th year, 261-72), have won 22 of their last 23 home matches.

Outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Sr., Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) paced WWU with 16 kills and eight digs. She moved past Lorrie Post (1987-90) into fifth place among school career kill leaders with 1,181.

Middle blocker Kayla Erickson (Gig Harbor/Peninsula) had 11 kills and three blocks for the Vikings. Libero Samantha Hutchinson (So., University Place/Curtis) had 20 digs and Laurie Yearout (Sr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark) 39 assists, both match highs. Yearout moved into fourth place among school career leaders in assists.

In the first set, the final margin of four points was the largest by either team. With WWU ahead by one, 20-19, Geary had three kills interspersed with two by the Wolves for a 23-21 advantage. The Vikings closed out the game with a kill by Jennica McPherson (R-Fr., Seattle/Kennedy) and a block by Kelsey Moore (So., Bellevue/Newport).

WWU scored the first three points of the second set and held a 20-15 lead. The Wolves could not get closer than two after that and a kill by Emily Boerger (Jr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck) gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead.

There were eight ties near the end of the third set, the last at 23-all. WWU closed out the match on kills by Geary and Erickson.

The win was WWU's seventh straight over the Wolves. The Vikings lead the series, 27-13.

WWU is at Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday, Oct. 4 (7 p.m. AT).

WWU volleyball earns sweep of Western Oregon

By Michelle Nolan -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Fourth-year volleyball standout Marlayna Geary, an accounting major, acknowledges she has never looked at the numbers on Western Washington University's career kills list.

The dynamic 5-foot-10 outside hitter, also known to the fans as "Thunder," is a lot more interested in counting the sets she receives from fellow senior Laurie Yearout and the supporting kills chalked up by rapidly improving 6-foot sophomore Kayla Erickson.

They added up to an impressive 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 Western sweep of conference leader Western Oregon University before a large, loud crowd at Carver Gym on Saturday, Sept. 29, moving the Vikings into at least a tie for the GNAC's No. 1 spot.

Geary chalked up 16 kills, including five of the last nine points on sets from Yearout for nationally 17th ranked Western (12-2, 5-1), which displayed exceptional poise at crunch time in all three sets for a team with only two seniors in the lineup.

Geary and Yearout, however, were thrilled to see Erickson log the match-winning kill with Western leading 24-23 after Western Oregon (10-3, 3-1) rallied from a 19-15 deficit.

"Kayla was just lights out (with her 11 kills, especially considering so many of her teammates contributed in the kill column)," said Geary, the GNAC season kills leader. She moved into the No. 5 spot on Western's career kills list with 1,181, passing former Viking star Lorrie Post, who last played 22 years ago.

"I really haven't looked at that (her numbers)," said Geary, who figures to soon move past the No. 2 spot, held by Gretchen Haakenson with 1,228 kills from 1990-1993. Meghan Evoy (2001-2004) holds the school record with 1,379, but that mark, too, may fall to "Thunder" with 12 league matches and, she fervently hopes, the postseason remaining.

"Marlayna's not worried about that stuff," said Western coach Diane Flick. "She leads well. It's not just her physical maturity, but her mental maturity and how she conducts herself as a team member."

Geary, who has outstanding athletic ability, agreed her mental game was on display in the win. She plays out of the back row and had eight digs, which is not unusual for her.

"I feel I'm a lot smarter and steadier," said Geary, who demonstrated her improved poise on Western's crucial 24th point in the third set when she scored a slam on Yearout's assist seconds after the Wolves blocked her first kill attempt on that fascinating sequence. "I used to get tense."

Yearout, who logged 39 assists, moved past Katie Robinson (2004-2007) into fourth place on Western's all-time list. Yearout also logged an unusually high five kills, using a quick-flip "dump" technique she learned from Flick and assistant James Suh.

Flick could not have been much happier.

"We played real well and we're continuing to learn," said Flick, whose next home match - Oct. 18 against GNAC contender Central Washington, which recently beat Western - figures to really rock the rafters.

"We're not an old team, but we're a team willing to fight," she said.

Sophomore libero Samantha Hutchinson, who leads the conference in digs, was at her hustling best with 20, helping Western to keep enough balls alive to overcome 20 kills by Wolves senior Danielle Reese. Western also got a combined 13 kills from starters Emily Boerger, Jennica McPherson and Kelsey Moore.

McPherson, a red shirt freshman who also had 10 digs, gave the Vikings a huge boost in the third set with a kill and two aces for a 3-0 lead and Western never trailed.

In the first set, the Vikings rattled off the final three points on a kill by Geary, a nifty cross-court kill near the net by Moore and a block by Moore and Boerger. In the second set at match point, Boerger ended it with a perfectly placed soft kill.

Sophomore Emily Cotter gave Western a lift off the bench with seven digs and three assists.

Yearout was pleased she could contribute in the kill column, since she came in with 26 in 13 matches.

"But it's really nice to have a hitter who can hit wherever I set the ball," she said of Geary while noting that Erickson is rapidly learning the same skills.

Western next plays at Alaska-Fairbanks on Oct. 4 and Alaska-Anchorage on Oct. 6.