Photo courtesy: Spencer Farrin/Idaho athletic media relations
Vandal volleyball boosted its chance for a second place finish in the WAC with a 3-1 victory over Fresno State Thursday.
The win completes the Vandals’ season sweep over the Bulldogs and brings their recent win count to eight of the last 10 matches. The Vandals are still behind New Mexico State for second in the conference as the Aggies won their match 3-0 at San Jose State Thursday. Second place in the conference and a first round bye in the WAC tournament will come down to Saturday’s games.
The Vandals take on Nevada, who they beat earlier in the year, while the Aggies face No. 6 Hawaii, which is unbeaten in conference play this season. Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said she likes her team’s focus.
“They’re locked in,” Buchanan said. “They’ve got goals right now and obviously they want this to happen. We’re in the position to do it, but we can’t overlook the fact that Nevada is a good team, they’re at home and they’re doing some good things right now. “
Idaho took the first set of the night, but fell in the second. Then came back to win the next two and take the match, but every set was decided by five points or less. Buchanan said her team’s performance at pivotal points was key.
“We got better as the match went on,” Buchanan said. “We didn’t start out the match passing particularly well, but we made key plays when we needed them for sure. We definitely kept them out of system the last couple games and they couldn’t run what they wanted to.”
Buchanan said the team is still committing more errors than she would like, but has the ability to fight back from a point deficit,
“We’re still making our errors, but I feel like they’re locking in and making adjustments better than we did early on,” Buchanan said. “That’s the difference right now. When things get tight or even when we’re down they’re working their way back and they’re fighting through it.”
Senior Alicia Milo and sophomore Allison Walker had solid performances for Idaho. Walker totaled 17 kills while Milo was right behind her with 15.
“We were able to clamp down some at times,” Buchanan said. “Typically we’ve been blocking pretty well. We served a little tougher and kept them out of system to where they could only set the outside or the back row a lot of times, and then we were able to transition and get our middles involved and as a team we just played better as the match went on.”
The big question coming into the last stretch of the season was could Idaho play well enough on the road, after struggling through most of the season, to keep its high position. So far the Vandals have done just that and are one win away from possibly clinching a coveted second place berth in the tournament.