No. 11 Vikings begin GNAC play with matches at MSUB and SPU
Sept. 24, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The nationally ranked Western Washington University volleyball team begins defense of its league championship this week with a pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference matches, traveling to Montana State Billings on Thursday, Sept. 26 (7 p.m.) and to Seattle Pacific on Saturday, Sept. 28 (5 p.m.).
The Vikings, 7-1 overall and ranked No.11 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, are opening the season with 10 road matches. They had a bye last week.
The Vikings began their season by sweeping four matches at the Western Oregon Invitational on Sept. 5-7. The following week, they won three of four contests at the Sonoma State Seawolf Spike Invitational, having a seven-match winning streak snapped by No.24 Sonoma State in four games.
WWU ranks among the top 10 nationally in three team statistical categories, being No.2 in attack percentage (.333), No.6 in kills per set (14.81) and No.9 in assists per set (13.54).
The Vikings have four players rated among the top 10 national leaders. They are libero Samantha Hutchinson (Jr., University Place/Curtis), second in digs per set (6.50); middle blocker Kayla Erickson (Jr., Gig Harbor), second in hitting percentage (.476); middle blocker Emily Boerger (Sr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), fifth in hitting percentage (.464); and setter Taylor Dillard (Jr., Milton/Fife), eighth in assists per set (11.69).
Boerger and Erickson were both named to the Sonoma State all-tournament team. Erickson had 50 kills and hit for a.437 percentage, while Boerger had 44 kills and a team-high 13 blocks. Boerger made only four errors in 90 attempts, hitting a team-high .444.
Hutchinson was named GNAC Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 8-14, averaging 8.50 digs with 102 in 12 sets.
WWU, coached by Diane Flick (14th year, 280-75), has four players averaging over two kills per set. They are Erickson 3.85, opposite-side hitter Jennica McPherson (So., Seattle/Kennedy) 2.88, Boerger 2.69, and outside hitter Kelsey Moore (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) 2.65.
MSUB is 2-8 overall, losing its last four matches, and is 2-0 in conference play. The Yellowjackets, making their home debut, are led by Monica Grimsrud, who leads the team in kills (3.90).
SPU, which ranks No.3 nationally in blocks per set and plays host to Simon Fraser on Thursday, is 5-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. The Falcons, who have lost three of their last four after a4-2 start, are led by Nikki Lowell, 1.31 blocks and 2.79 kills, and Madi Cavell, 2.90 kills and 2.31 digs.
WWU has never lost to MSUB in 15 meetings and has a 39-25 series advantage over SPU.
NOTES: WWU became the first team in the 13-year history of the GNAC to open a season with four consecutive 3-0 victories against NCAA II competition when it went 4-0 at the Western Oregon Invitational on Sept. 5-7 with sweeps of Cal State East Bay, Holy Names, Minnesota State Mankato and Metro State. That string of 12 set victories began with a marathon 34-32 win against Cal State East Bay in which there were 27 ties and 13 lead changes. The biggest advantage by either team was just two points on three occasions ...Erickson received GNAC Offensive POW honors for Sept. 1-7, while Hutchinson earned defensive honorable mention ... The Vikings are working on a 14-game home court winning streak and have lost just once (26-1) at Carver Gym in the last three seasons. They have won 114 of their 126 (.905) home matches since going to a SportCourt surface in 2000.
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