Aug. 29, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball team defeated Portland 3-0 to remain undefeated and win the championship title at the Nike Cougar Invitational tournament in Bohler Gym Saturday night.
The Cougars (3-0) defeated the third-place Pilots (1-2) by set scores of 25-23, 25-23, and 25-17. UC Davis (2-1) took second place and Montana State finished fourth (0-3).
WSU senior middle blocker Cassie Robbins (Yakima) was named the tournament MVP with Cougars Brittany Tillman (Lakewood), Jackie Albright (Lake Forest, Calif.) and Renee Bordelon (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) also being named to the all-tournament team.
"I only had half a season last year so that is egging me on," Robbins said about her MVP performance this weekend. "It is my senior year and I'm not timid; I'm trying to be fearless on the court and just do what I need to do to help our team win. In preseason you could feel how much better the team felt we were playing together and how excited we are to play and test other teams."
"The thing that I am most pleased with this weekend is our passing," WSU Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. "I thought we passed fairly consistent throughout the whole weekend. If you look at our middles' stats, that is a big testament to how we were passing because we were able to attack from the middle all three matches. We put three consistently good hitting percentages together this weekend."
In the match against Portland, Albright had a double-double with a match-high 16 kills and 10 digs, in addition to hitting .429. Tillman landed 10 kills and hit .529 for the match. Robbins had nine kills, hit .353 and landed two blocks. Bordelon had 39 assists. Freshman Oceana Bush (Spokane) led the team with 11 digs and freshman Rachel Todorovich (Walla Walla) added seven kills, an ace and a pair of blocks. The Cougars hit .362 in the win.
Portland's Jessica Clemens had a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs. Katie Hronek added another 10 kills with Danielle Dupar having a match-high 12 digs. Kaylyn Jones had 26 assists and Marissa Plummer had six kills, two aces, four digs and a solo block.
WSU's Albright (.385) and Tillman (.625) each had five kills in the first set with Tillman's mid-court grand slam ending the set as the Pilots fought off two set-point services. Bush's seven digs kept the Cougars in the set throughout. The Clemens' sisters each had four kills in the opening round.
The second set was knotted up 13 times with the Cougars frequently coming from behind to stay in the set. With Portland up 22-21, Bush played a high hit that brushed the finger tips of the Pilots' back row player to tie the set at 22. UP's Jones landed a kill to take the Pilots to 23 and Cougar coach Palileo took a timeout. On the ensuing play, Tillman tooled the front row block to tie the set at 23. Robbins and Albright combined on a block to give WSU the 24-23 lead and Robbins tipped the ball over the front row for the 25-23 win. WSU hit .366 in this set with Albright and Tillman combining for nine of the team's 18 kills.
The Cougars took the momentum for the second set and came off the break ready to put the match away. WSU had 13 kills in 26 attacks with only two errors for a .423 hitting percentage and held Up to .171 in this set.
"In the first match against Montana State today I don't think we came out with the intensity that Montana State came out with and they did some nice things against us that took us a little while longer to adjust to," Palileo said. "We didn't do as good of a job with the game plan going into the second set so we struggled through that whole match. We came back tonight and I was happy with our intensity and our steadiness throughout the whole match. We put ourselves, in two sets, where we really had to execute down the stretch and we did a good job of that."
Tillman, the only Cougar junior to receive all-tournament honors said, "Coach Palileo wants to win as bad as we do so we're all going after it together. Everyone is hungry to be successful. I feel that this is the team that can do that."
In the early evening match, UC Davis (2-1) defeated Montana State (0-3) with scores of 25-21, 25-18, 25-14. Melanie Adams led the Aggies and the match with 13 kills, hitting .423, served five aces and had nine digs. Setter Carson Lowden had 34 assists and Katie Denny had three blocks. In this match, Aggies' libero, Avreeta Singh, surpassed the UC Davis record for career digs of 1,446 held by Mary McClelland, from 2001-04. Singh had 38 digs in the tournament and now has 1,455 career digs. Montana State's Taylar Barney had 10 kills (.320) to lead the Bobcats. Meghan Albiston and Hannah Stroebe each had 11 digs and Rachelle Allen, Kylie Edinger and Kyla Hendry each contributed a pair of blocks.
Washington State travels to Orem, Utah, next weekend for the Utah Valley La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational to play Missouri, No. 17 Utah and host Utah Valley University. The Cougars will also play Weber State in a Labor Day afternoon match in Ogden.
2009 Nike Cougar Invite All-Tournament Team
Carson Lowden, UC Davis
Jessica Clemens, Portland
Marissa Plummer, Portland
Renee Bordelon, WSU
Brittany Tillman, WSU
Jackie Albright, WSU
Libero - Avreeta Singh, UC Davis
MVP - Cassie Robbins, WSU