Tigers Open 2011 With A 3-2 Win Over Boise State
Cedar City, Utah - Opening the 2011 season at the Crystal Inn Thunderbird Invitational, the Pacific women's volleyball team got off to a strong start as the Tigers downed the Boise State Broncos, 3-2, on Friday, August 26. The match was the first of the season for both teams as Pacific improved to 1-0 on the year while the Broncos fell to 0-1.
Game scores for the match were: 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 15-10.
Led by their captains, junior Hannah Clancy and seniors Samantha Misa and Rebekah Torres, the Tigers started fast and then fought hard to come out on top of a relentless Bronco squad en route to their first victory. For Clancy, the junior setter posted arguably one of the top all-around matches in Pacific program history as she tallied 57 assists, 34 digs, three kills and three blocks. Clancy's 34 digs proved to be the fourth most in single match history for the Tigers. In addition, the 34 digs was the most by a Tiger in a single match since the 2006 season when all-time digs leader, Julie Magud-Bauhs, picked up 35 digs in two separate matches.
In Misa, the Tigers top-offensive threat did not disappoint as the senior tallied a match-high 23 kills on 61 swings to lead the way. Her 23 kills was her fourth straight 20+ kill match dating back to the end of the 2010 campaign.
Jumping out to a quick start, the Tigers took the first two games of the match using two different styles of play. In the opener, Pacific made the most of their height advantage to pull away from the Broncos through the defensive side of the net with 4.5 team blocks while holding the Broncos to just a .186 hitting percentage. With its defense holding tough, Pacific's attack at the pins with Misa and sophomore Jennifer Sanders was able to push the Tigers over the top late in the game.
"We've got a lot of options and we are just trying to find what is the best option," said head coach Greg Gibbons. "You can see today we had a good amount of blocks which isn't a bad way to start were already starting to get there but you also saw some weaknesses in out blocking. It some of the stuff we are going to have to work on when we get back on the court on Monday. I think on the upside our girls found a way to win."
In game two, an end game rally by the Broncos set up their push towards a game five as a late seven point lead by the Tigers was just enough for Pacific to hold on for the victory.
Picking up games three and four, the Broncos were able to even the match at two games a piece and send the match into a fifth and decisive contest. Using a balanced attack, the Broncos got big production out of their middle, Darlene Nwagbuo, throughout their run as the senior picked up seven kills on 12 swings to lead the way.
Coach Gibbons said when speaking about Boise State, "(They) are a scrappy team, that team dug a lot of balls and we have a lot of heavy arms. We blocked them well and still they were there."
With the tables turned in games three and four by Boise State, the Tigers needed game five to take home the victory. With the shortened game deciding the victor, Pacific ran out to a giant lead early and never looked back, taking a 9-2 lead before the Broncos could respond. Fittingly for the Tigers, a did in the back corner by Clancy on the what would-be the match's final play kept Pacific in position to put away the match while junior Gabby Cowden put the match away with kill on an overpass at the center of the net.
"What's impressive is you can see where we are maturing as a team and coming together is that they went out there and in game five, did not make an unforced error until after the switch," said coach Gibbons on his team's play and maturation. "Right there we fought back, regrouped and handled what we needed to. It's not always pretty but this team went out there and did what ever they needed to win."
Overall, the Tigers hit .234 as a team with 72 kills on 205 swings. With Misa at 23 kills, the Tigers saw two other attackers hit double-figures in freshman Hanna Levanen and Sanders with 15 and 13 kills, respectively. For Clancy (57 assists, 34 digs), Misa (23 kills, 13 digs), the duo each posted double-doubles in the match while Levanen joined the party with 15 kills and 10 digs to pick up a double-double in her first collegiate match. Torres tallied 23 digs in the match, two off of her career best.
For the Broncos, four players reached double-figures in kills as Elizabeth Griffin posted a team-high 16 while Nwagbuo added 14, Fiona Jones added 13 and Brittany Reardon tallied 12 kills. Breann Nesselhuf, the Broncos' starting setter, posted a double-double with 52 assists and 15 digs while Jones added 20 digs to go with her 13 kills. Amanda Remy tallied a match-high 38 digs for the Broncos from the her libero position.
Pacific will continue its day at the Crystal Inn Thunderbird Invitational later in the day whey the team take on Utah State at 3:30 pm PST. The match will be the Aggies first of the tournament and season.