Sept. 15, 2009
SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball team defeated Gonzaga University 25-10, 25-15, 25-20, Tuesday night at the Martin Centre in Spokane, to remain undefeated in 11 contests this season. WSU will enter the Pacific-10 Conference schedule in ten days with an 11-0 record, the best record for WSU since opening the 2002 Elite Eight season at 11-0 and the sixth time in school history the Cougar volleyball team has gone 11-0. The Cougars' all-time best start was 1997 when WSU started the season 16-0 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
WSU was led by Brittany Tillman's 12 kills as the junior middle blocker from Lakewood, Wash., had no errors in 19 attacks for a career-best.632 hitting percentage, and added four blocks. Three other Cougs did not commit an attack error in the match: Rachel Todorovich had nine kills on 16 attacks (career-high .562) and added five blocks, Jackie Albright had eight kills on 20 attacks (.400) and had four blocks, and Renee Bordelon had four kills on eight attacks (.500), and led the match with 36 assists. Cassie Robbins was no slouch with seven kills, two errors in 14 attacks (.357) and had a match-high six blocks. Oceana Bush led the match with 19 digs and Kelly Hyder had 10 digs.
Gonzaga, now 3-7 on the season, was led by Michelle Boevers's nine kills and Denise Van de Mortel's 32 assists. Caitlin Cozad contributed four kills and led the Zags with two blocks. Laura Day had 10 digs and the lone GU ace.
The Cougs' tall and oppressive front line proved dominated the match as they out-blocked the Zags 12 to 3 and WSU hit .396 and held Gonzaga to .096.
"We have been focusing on our side of the net. At the break I told the team that they (Gonzaga) would come out and play a little bit better in set three so we need to make sure we stay focused," WSU Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. "This is a great type of match to see what kind of focus we had throughout the whole match and I thought we did a good job of that. We handled things on our side of the net, and our blocking was a huge factor. Our key has been finishing teams off when we have the opportunity and tonight I thought we finished well in all three sets."
WSU raced out to an 8-1 lead in the first set and extended it to a 19-7 commanding advantage. The Cougars, led by the five kills of Tillman who hit .714 in this set, reached a 25-10 win. WSU hit .429 and held GU to a .000 hitting percentage.
The Zags took an early 8-7 lead in the second set and the score was tied seven times up to a 13-all. Washington State went on a 12-2 run, including scoring the final six points for the 25-15 win. The Cougars hit .371 in this set while Gonzaga hit .150 as a team.
The Cougs had a 14-12 lead and moved it to a five-point differential before the Zags knotted it up at 19 points all. Still tied at 20, Tillman's attack led the visitors to five consecutive points and the 25-20 set win. WSU hit .344 and held GU to a .128 hitting percentage in this set.
"I told the team tonight in the locker room that we are the preseason Pac-10 champs, if you look at the standings," Palileo said laughing. "So obviously they loved that. I told them we couldn't have asked for a better start to our season and it put us in position for the end of the season as well as for the Pac-10 season. But that also puts up the red flag that WSU is going to be a team our opponents have to prepare for and now we have to respond to that special preparation and hopefully we can continue to do our work. We have four or five days off now and I really want them to enjoy what they have accomplished in this first part because, come Sunday, when we come back to practice, we are going to concentrate on the Pac-10 season and focus on what's coming ahead."
Washington State is now idle until Sept. 25, when the Cougs travel to Corvallis, to begin Pac-10 play at Oregon State.