WEST POINT, NY -- Freshman Kyra Holt led the Washington State volleyball team to a pair of season-opening victories Saturday at the Army Black Knights Invitational Tournament in Gillis Field House in West Point, NY. WSU started the day with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-19 win over Alabama (1-1), and it was the 25th time in the past 27 years that the Cougars have won their season-opening match and the ninth consecutive first-match win. Just a brief time later in a very hot and humid afternoon, WSU (2-0) defeated Seton Hall (1-2) with scores of 25-21, 25-27, 16-25, 25-16, and 15-6.
Holt, a freshman outside hitter from Hercules, Calif., showed the strength of the Cougars’ 14th-ranked freshman class with her team-leading 28 kills and .338 hitting percentage on the day.
“It’s fantastic for a freshman to come out and perform as she has,” WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “She struggled at times but every player is going to do that. I’m really proud of the way she came out and competed. It’s really great for the future of Cougar volleyball.”
In the opening match, Holt and junior Jaicee Harris combined for 22 of the team’s 42 kills as the Cougars hit .347 for the match. Harris and Kate Sommer each had 12 digs. Camryn Irwin contributed 35 assists and with Ver’Leea Hardaway had three blocks each. Holt also led the match landing three of WSU’s eight service aces. Alabama’s stats leaders were Laura Steiner with nine kills, Sierra Wilson’s 33 assists, and Brittany Thomas’ 11 digs. The Crimson Tide hit .223 for the match.
After the WSU-Alabama match started an hour late due to the Seton Hall-Army match going five sets, the Cougars had less than two hours until the start of their second match of the day. In the Seton Hall win Holt had a match-high 17 kills while hitting .350 and racked up six blocks and nine digs. Marcelina Glab added 10 kills, hit .333, two aces and had a match-high nine blocks. Hardaway had 14 kills, hit .385 and had five blocks while Irwin had 47 assists and Sommer had 19 digs. Seton Hall was led by Amanda Hansen’s 13 kills, Shelbey Manthorpe’s 40 assists and 12 digs, and Alyssa Warren’s 19 digs. The Cougars out-blocked the Pirates 18 to seven.
“We had six communication errors in that tough 27-25 second set loss and that happens sometimes with new players playing for a long time in a set,” Greeny said. “And then in the third set it was like we were in a coma but we were able to come back and respond. The returning players were not going to give up. I was really proud of our middles Ver’Leea Hardaway and Marcelina Glab, especially, as their numbers were great and we really rode them in sets four and five.”
“I’m proud of the whole team and definitely happy to come out at the end of the day with two wins,” Greeny said. “With the back-to-back matches I wasn’t sure how we would respond. It’s one thing to do in air conditioning and not so humid conditions but this is tough. We got it done and that’s all that really matters. We’ll get them hydrated tonight and be ready to come out tomorrow.”
Sunday, the Cougars play host Army at 10 a.m. PT. All road matches for WSU volleyball in 2013 are available online, free of charge, at www.wsucougars.com.