Sept. 11, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball team needed all five sets to defeat state-line neighbor Idaho before 791 fans Friday night in the second match of the Nike Cougar Challenge tournament in Bohler Gym.
Washington State moved to 9-0 on the season with the 26-24, 26-28, 25-20, 14-25, 15-11 win over Idaho which dropped to 4-3.
WSU's Brittany Tillman led the Cougars with 17 kills and hit .481 on the night. Rachel Todorovich added 13 kills while Meagan Ganzer and Cassie Robbins each landed 11 kills. Robbins, a senior from Yakima, had a career-high 11 blocks while Todorovich and setter Renee Bordelon (55 assists) each had five blocks. Kelly Hyder led the team with 21 digs and had a match-high three aces. Three more Cougs had double-digit digs with 19 for Oceana Bush, 13 for Jackie Albright, and 10 for Bordelon.
Idaho was led by Sarah Conwell's 18 kills and Alicia Milo's 14 kills. Debbie Pederson had 11 blocks with seven blocks each from Jennifer Feicht (36 assists) and Anna McKinney. Meredith Rice led the match with 22 digs while Conwell added 16 digs.
Blocking was the story as the Vandals had 19 team blocks and the Cougars 15 team blocks. WSU hit .176 for the match and Idaho hit .160.
"I love to block and this year I'm not giving up," Robbins said "Maybe I had that mentality in the past where I would be late (to the block) and stop but this year I'm really trying to go after it and close the block. And be a lot more aggressive for my team. Hyder pushes me so I have motivation behind me."
Idaho's Conwell and WSU Tillman each had six kills and Pederson had three blocks in the first set. There were four lead changes and nine tie scores, including when the Vandals came back with the Cougars serving for set ahead 24-22. McKinney sparked the visitors with a kill and a big block to knot the score at 24. Ganzer landed a kill for WSU's 25th point and Conwell hit into the net to give the Cougars the 26-24 win.
WSU scored five straight points in the second set to go ahead 17-13 only to have the Vandals go on a six-two scoring run and take a 20-19 lead. The teams rallied and volleyed to tie at 23, 24, 25, and 26 points, the 17th tie of the set. Albright served into the net to put Idaho serving for the win. Feicht's attack landed on the floor and Idaho won 28-26. Conwell landed seven kills as Idaho hit a mere .023 while WSU also struggled offensively, hitting .108. The Vandals land six blocks and the Cougars had seven blocks, five from Robbins, in this set.
WSU came from behind to tie the set at 16 and then scored six uncontested points to take a 21-16. Idaho warmed up after a timeout and out-scored the Cougs four to one before WSU took a timeout. The crimson and gray scored the final three points on kills from Ganzer and Todorovich to take the 25-20 win. Again the offense struggled with WSU hitting .167 and Idaho hitting .044.
Idaho grabbed an 18-10 lead in the fourth set and extended it to a 25-14 win and forcing a fifth set. The Vandals hit an outstanding .455 and held the Cougs to a .000 team hitting percentage.
WSU scored the first four points of the fifth set before Idaho lit up the scoreboard. The Cougs were up 8-4 when the teams switched benches. Washington State went ahead 14-8 but Idaho battled hard with kills from Kelsey Taylor and Pederson to move forward 14-10. A missed attack by Todorovich gave the Vandals hope but the freshman from Walla Walla redeemed herself on the next play with a ball slammed in the middle of the court and a 15-11 WSU win.
"Set three was huge for us because we were behind and finally caught them at 15 and then pushed ahead for a couple more points. But we were pretty steady in that one and we didn't lose control like we did in the fourth set," WSU Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. "A quick look at the statistics shows that everything is pretty equal so it came down to making one or two plays especially within the first three sets. Idaho has always been a solid blocking team and I don't know if we'll face that much of a blocking team the rest of the year when it comes to being good and consistent in reading where the ball is going to be set."
Idaho plays Cal State Northridge Saturday at 1 p.m. and Washington State will meet Cal State Northridge again Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Bohler Gym. Admission is free.