Sept. 10, 2008
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball came back from a two-game deficit to defeat Gonzaga before 768 fans in the Cougars' home opener at Marcia Saneholtz Court at Bohler Gym.
WSU, 4-3, won the two-hour and five-minute match with set scores of 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 28-26, and 15-8. Gonzaga dropped to 2-6 on the season.
Washington State was led by the 18 kills (.241) from senior Brittany Johnson who also added 10 digs and three solo blocks. Jackie Albright had 14 kills and 24 digs while Cassie Robbins has 12 kills. Brittany Tillman and Emily Rooney each had 10 kills and Tillman has four blocks. Renee Bordelon had 47 assists and Kelly Hyder had a match-high 27 digs. WSU hit .206 for the match.
Gonzaga's Elaina Renius led all players with 22 kills and 10 blocks. Layne Brosky had 15 kills (.419) and Michelle Boevers had 11 kills. Denise Van de Mortel 65 assists, a team-high 18 digs and six blocks. Five Zags were in double-figure digs in the match.
"At the break (between sets two and three) we decided to focus on how we had to turn it around and what we had to do," Cougar Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. "I didn't touch upon how bad we were playing or how bad the older players were playing because they didn't play very well in the first two sets, we just tried to make adjustments and stayed away from a lot of the things we weren't doing well. We started doing thing a little bit better. I told the team this five-set match win was better than the two we had (at Boise State tournament) because we controlled a lot of the points. It wasn't about them making errors for us to score off of, it was about us controlling points. That was a big difference and I was pleased with that part of it."
Gonzaga took control of the first set with five kills from Layne Brosky and another five from Elaina Renius. The Zags hit .234 as a team in this set. WSU made a run late in the set, down 20-12, but Albright's and Tillman's offensive contributions were not enough to bring the Cougs closer than four. A pair of WSU miscues gave GU the final two points for the 25-19 win.
The second set started toe-to-toe and tied at eight points each when Gonzaga went on a 4-0 run. After a WSU timeout Meagan Ganzer slammed down a kill before GU went on a 6-3 run to go ahead 18-12. The Cougs battled back and tallied six points to the visitors two. A kill from Cozad and an attack error by WSU put GU back in control 22-18. Rooney squeezed in a kill before the Zags closed the set with a 25-19 win. Johnson landed four kills in the set.
A motivated Cougar team took the floor after the break and showed a revitalized offense. The teams battled back and forth with nine ties until a Johnson kill put WSU up 18-17 and Gonzaga took a timeout. WSU kept the lead until GU tied it up at 21. A kill down the middle from Tillman was followed tip by Albright for a WSU 23-21 lead. Van de Mortel blocked the next Cougar attack prompting Cougar coach Palileo to take a timeout. Albright's kill put the home team at set point and GU took the timeout. The final point went to the Cougs as Renius's attack did not find the court. Johnson tallied three solo blocks and three kills. Cougs win the third set 25-22.
WSU kept the momentum alive in the fourth set starting strong with a 13-8 lead before the Zags ripped off four straight points. But the Cougs kept the lead, if slim, and scored four straight to go up 23-18. GU had its own run late in the set for a trio of points. A kill by Rooney put the Cougs serving set point but Brosky counted with a kill followed by an ace from Bashaw. Kelsey Johnson's kill tied the set at 24. Rooney and Renius traded kills for the 25-all tie. Albright pounded home a kill for the 26-25 advantage but Renius again countered with a kill for the tie. Tillman, playing strong at the net, scored a kill followed by Johnson's tip to end the set 28-26. WSU hit .261 for the set while GU hit .239.
The fifth set was dominated by the Cougars as they hit a match-high of .306 and held Gonzaga to a .000 hitting percentage. WSU went up 10-4 before GU got on track and made a run with kills from Brosky and Cozad. But the tight play at the net from the Cougar sophomore Tillman, the junior Albright and the senior Johnson, made the difference in this set and wrapped up the 15-8 win.
"This win was really important. We have a lot of support here in Cougarville and we wanted to make sure our fans come back. We feel appreciated with all the support we get," Cougar Brittany Johnson said. "We needed to win after the three loses this weekend and I think we did an amazing job in pulling it out."
"I think coach kind of whipped us into shape during practices and he told us that we need to trust ourselves and we were able to turn it around tonight," Albright said.
WSU hosts the Cougar Challenge tournament, Sept. 12-13, taking on No. 18 Wichita State, Montana State and Northwestern. All home matches will be played on Saneholtz Court in Bohler Gym.