Nov. 29, 2008
PULLMAN, Wash. -- For the second consecutive night, five Cougars had double-figure kills as the Washington State volleyball team ended the first year of the Cougar Head Coach Andrew Palileo era with a 25-17, 25-21, 23-25, 21-25, 15-10 win over Arizona before 356 fans at Bohler Gym.
WSU ends the year with a 10-19 overall record, 3-15 in Pacific-10 Conference action after winning three of the final four matches of the season. Arizona is now 16-14 overall, 6-12 in Pac-10 play and with now a slim chance for an NCAA at-large bid Sunday.
Cougar outside hitters Jackie Albright had 18 kills and 12 digs and Brittany Johnson had 17 kills (.311) to lead WSU. Meagan Ganzer added 14 kills and three blocks and Brittany Tillman chipped in 13 kills (.333) and a team-high four blocks. Emily Rooney contributed 12 kills with no errors on 20 attacks for a .600 hitting percentage. Renee Bordelon had a career-high 64 assists and added 10 digs and three blocks. Bree Flach had 15 digs and two aces.
Arizona's Tiffany Owens led the match with 26 kills (.313) and 14 digs. Whitney Dosty had 13 kills while both Jacy Norton and Stephanie Snow had 10 kills with Norton hitting .500 and Snow hitting .389. Snow had a match-high six blocks. Paige Weber had 63 assists and 13 digs while Alanna Resch had 11 digs.
"Several areas have grown and matured throughout the year," Palileo said. "Our two outside hitters, Jackie Albright and Brittany Johnson, have done a really good job just trying to do what I've been wanting them to do; to keep the errors down but figure out a way to still be aggressive and keep the hitting percentages up. The last four matches they have been doing a pretty good job of that. With the injury to Cassie Robbins, freshman Meagan Ganzer has had the opportunity to play the last five weeks and she has been progressing daily in practices especially. Brittany Tillman has made huge improvements in volleyball IQ, not so much on the offensive sides but just knowing what to do in certain situations. Renee did a good job of running the show especially the last two nights with five hitters in double-digit kills says something about the setter putting the hitters in good positions."
The Cougars broke open the first set and never looked back after a 3-3 tie. Rooney, Ganzer, Johnson and Tillman each had four kills in the opener. Norton was the leader for the Wildcats with four kills. WSU hit .371 and Arizona hit .211 in this set.
WSU took a 13-9 lead in the second set but UA battled back with four straight points to knot the set and force the Cougars into a timeout. Wildcats scored again immediately but started point-trading play until the set was tied at 20-all. An attack error by UA's Brooke Buringrud sent the visitors to a timeout which was beneficial to the Cougs. Johnson came out and landed a pair of kills followed by an ace from Flach and WSU was at set point. Dana Hutchinson delayed the inevitable with a kill as Johnson finished the set with her fifth kill and WSU took the 25-21 win. Albright also tagged five kills in the set with Ganzer and Tillman adding another three each. Cougars hit .318 and UA hit .317 for the set.
The third set had 15 ties and six lead changes. With the score 18-17 in WSU's favor, Arizona racked up four straight points for a 21-18 lead. WSU battled back, taking three of the next four points to come within one at 22-21. Tillman was called in the net for the Wildcats' 23rd point and Cougar coach Palileo called a timeout. Albright landed kill and WSU was within one again. Owens countered with her 10th kill of the set to put Arizona serving for set. Tillman stuff blocked Dosty's attack but Snow landed a kill to give Arizona the 25-23 win. In this set, WSU hit. .436 with 19 kills (six from Albright) and two errors on 39 attacks while Arizona hit .429 with 20 kills and two errors in 42 attacks.
The teams were tied at 17 when UA put a trio up on the board for the lead and did not look back. The Wildcats out-scored the Cougars five to four to take the fourth set 25-21. Albright had six kills in this set as WSU hit .237 and Arizona hit .324.
The fifth set did not have a pretty start but WSU went ahead 8 to 6 with the Cougs hitting .000 and Arizona -.182 at this juncture. After Snow hit two attacks wide, Johnson crushed a ball from the back row and WSU was ahead 10-6. The Wildcats could not mount a come-back as Johnson, Rooney and Ganzer pounded home the 15-10 win for WSU. Arizona hit -.048 for this set and the Cougs hit .267.
"Our attitude coming into the weekend was that we are not losing, we are winning these games," Cougar junior Albright said.
For Johnson, a senior from Phoenix, it was a memorable way to end her Cougar career. "It was personal for me, sweeping the Arizona schools for the first time in my career," Johnson said. "I feel the program is in a better place than when I got here and that was my original goal. This is the first time I can say we won three Pac-10 games, the first time we swept the Arizona schools and I know that Coach Palileo and the rest of the staff area going to take the team really far. I feel like I helped in some way but I wish we could have done more."