WWU begins second half of GNAC season at home
Oct. 10, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - In solid position to defend its league championship, the Western Washington University volleyball team begins the second half of Great Northwest Athletic Conference play this week, entertaining Western Oregon University on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Saint Martin's University on Saturday (7 p.m.) at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
Saturday's match will be "Dig Pink" to increase breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink that night to help in that effort.
The Vikings, 9-4 overall, are tied for second place in the GNAC standings with Alaska Anchorage (11-6 overall). Seattle Pacific (12-4), which tied with WWU for last year's title, leads at the halfway point by half a match at 7-1.
Western Oregon is 7-6 overall and tied for fourth in the GNAC at 6-3. The Wolves have won their last three matches, winning in four sets at Saint Martin's last week after sweeping both Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene at home the previous week.
In their first meeting this season on Sept. 17 at Monmouth, Ore., WWU rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat the Wolves in five sets. Junior outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Tacoma/Bellarmine) had a match and season-high 24 kills and a career-high 30 digs for the Vikings in that contest.
WWU holds a 25-13 series advantage, winning the last seven meetings with the Wolves.
Saint Martin's is 3-12 overall and eighth in the league at 2-7. The Saints, who are at Simon Fraser on Thursday, have lost their last seven matches.
WWU swept Saint Martin's on Sept. 14 at Lacey, running its series' winning streak to 25. The Vikings, who hold a 46-5 series advantage, last lost to the Saints in 1999.
Last week, WWU split a pair of conference road matches, sweeping Montana State Billings and falling in five sets to Seattle Pacific, ranked No.20 in last week's American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll.
Geary ranks 13th nationally in average kills per set at 4.32 (203) and 18th in points at 4.71 (221.5). She leads the GNAC in both categories and is ninth in digs at 3.91 (184).
Geary has had double-doubles in kills and digs in six of WWU's last seven matches and seven times overall this season.
Senior middle blocker Emily Jepsen (Kennewick/Kamiakin) ranks among the top 10 GNAC leaders in four categories. She is second in attack percentage at .329, third in blocks at 1.04 (49), sixth in points at 4.06 (191) and 10th in kills at 3.30 (155). She has posted double-figure kills in each of the Vikings' last seven matches.
Junior setter Laurie Yearout (Spokane/Lewis & Clark) leads the conference in assists and ranks 15th nationally with an 11.04 average (519), and senior defensive specialist Haleigh Adkins (Puyallup/Rogers) paces the GNAC in service aces at 0.45 (21 with 11 errors).
Redshirt freshman libero Samantha Hutchinson (University Place/Curtis) is second among GNAC leaders in digs with a 5.45 average (256) and junior middle blocker Bailey Jones (Mukilteo/Kamiak) is seventh in blocks at 0.89 (33).
WWU tops the GNAC in kills (13.26), assists (12.38) and opponent attack percentage (.169).
WWU coach Diane Flick (12th year, 242-68) has a .781 winning percentage which ranks ninth among active NCAA II coaches. She has been named GNAC Coach of the Year six times with the Vikings winning no less than 17 matches during her first 11 years and 20 or more seven times.
WWU has lost just 12 times in 113 home matches (.893 winning percentage) since Flick became head coach in 2000 and the Vikings went to a SportCourt surface. Overall, Western is 216-78 (.735) in 38 years at Carver Gym.
Geary was the GNAC co-Player of the Week for Sept. 11-17, and Jepsen was picked to the all-tournament team at the Cal State San Bernardino Coyote Labor Day Classic.
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