Michaela Hall leads WWU with 15 kills on .483 hitting percentage and adds 4 blocks. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
Vikings Sweep Wildcats for Ninth Consecutive Win
September 16, 2018
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – The No. 13 nationally-ranked Western Washington University volleyball team won its ninth consecutive match with a convincing 3-0 sweep over Central Washington Saturday evening in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action in Nicholson Pavilion.
With both teams entering the match riding extending winning streaks and matching 3-0 GNAC records, it was the Vikings that ran away with the 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 victory for their ninth consecutive win. WWU is now 9-3 overall and off to a 4-0 start in league play after recording its 22nd consecutive league win dating back to last season. CWU, who received votes in this week’s AVCA Division II rankings (No. 30), had its seven-match win streak snapped to fall to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in GNAC play.
“We talked about before the match it was going to have to be a WE performance and we followed that with one of our best team efforts of the season,” said 19th-year head coach Diane Flick-Williams. “Some players were not themselves tonight, but the team had their backs and we really pulled together for a really good road win against a good team.”
WWU senior middle Michaela Hall (Centralia, WA) led the Vikings with a match-high 15 kills while recording an efficient .483 hitting percentage (15 kills, 1 error, 29 attacks). She also recorded a match-high 4 blocks for a match-high 17.0 points.
“By the second and third sets, Michaela just took over and was dominating,” added Flick-Williams. “She is playing with a lot of confidence and has strung together some really solid performances.”
Senior outside hitter Abby Phelps (Manson, WA/Chelan) added 9 kills and 14 digs, while senior libero Aubrey Stephens (Colville, WA) led all players with 19 digs.
WWU’s balanced offensive attack had five players with 6-or-more kills. Junior middle Kayleigh Harper (Oak Harbor, WA) recorded 8 kills and 3 blocks, redshirt freshman outside hitter Gabby Gunterman (Lake Stevens, WA) had 7 kills and 4 digs and sophomore outside hitter Alison Davenport (Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside) tallied 6 kills and 3 blocks.
CWU was led by 14 kills, 8 digs and 3 blocks by sophomore Makala Swart, and an 11-kill, 11-dig double-double by Shelby Mauritson.
“Games are marathons, not sprints,” said Flick-Williams on some of the ups and downs of the match. “We had some leads and then we had some letdowns, but overall we just remained tough and we kept the mentality that we were going to take it one point at a time.”
SET 1 (WWU 25, CWU 20): The Vikings got off to a quick start in the opening set, and then held off a late CWU rally to go up 1-0 with a 25-20 win. WWU opened the match scoring the first four points and led 8-3 to force a CWU timeout. After going on a 9-3 run to grow the Western lead to 17-6, the Wildcats went on an 11-3 spurt, including scoring six straight points, to pull to within three points at 20-17. The Vikings ended the match on a 5-3 run to gain the 25-20 win. Phelps led the Vikings with 4 kills and Davenport had 3 kills.
SET 2 (WWU 25, CWU 23): WWU worked from behind most of the second set, trailing early 6-1 and 17-13 midway through the set. WWU went on a 9-4 run to pull even at 18-18, and extended the run to 13-4 after a 4-0 spurt coming out of a CWU timeout. The Wildcats closed the gap to 24-23 going on a 4-0 run with set point on the line for the Vikings, but Gunterman put the finishing touches on the comeback with a kill.
SET 3 (WWU 25, CWU 20): Western closed out the sweep with a 25-20 win in the third set, pulling away from an early one-point lead at 8-7 by going on an 8-1 run. Central climbed back into it pulling to within 5 points at 20-15, but WWU closed out the victory for its ninth consecutive victory.
The Vikings (9-3, 4-0 GNAC) return home to Bellingham to host a pair of GNAC matches next week on WECU Court in Carver Gym, beginning with a Thursday night match vs. Alaska Fairbanks. WWU then hosts GNAC rival Alaska Anchorage on Saturday night with free admission offered to all WWU students. Both matches start at 7 pm with tickets available online atWWUVikings.com/Tickets.
“We are looking forward to getting home and returning to the gym to continue to get better,” said Flick-Williams. “We are ready to put our hard hats on and get to work and look forward to hosting the Alaska schools.”
MATCH NOTES…the Vikings extended their winning streak to 9 consecutive matches after opening the season with three consecutive losses to top 25 teams at the West Florida Invitational (#24 Wheeling Jesuit, #2 Southwest Minnesota State, #7 Regis)…WWU has now won its last 22 GNAC matches dating back to its last conference loss on Sept. 16, 2017 at NNU…the Vikings now lead the all-time series vs. CWU 70-43-1, including a 20-5 mark over the last 25 matches…won 5 straight overall vs. the Wildcats and 5 of last 6 in Ellensburg…Michaela Hall now has 357 career blocks, moving into a tie for 9th place in WWU history…WWU is now 4-0 in true road games this season, and overall 7-3 in games away from Bellingham (3-3 neutral).
FOLLOW THE VIKS…Fans can follow WWU Volleyball online at WWUVikings.com/VB, and via social media on Twitter (@WWUVolleyball), Instagram (@WWUVB) and Facebook (@WWUVolleyball).
Kills - Hall (15), Phelps (9), Harper (8)
Aces - Phelps (1), Davenport (1), Lyall (1)
Blocks - Hall (4), Davenport (3), Harper (3)
Assists - Boesel (40)
Digs - Stephens (19), Phelps (14), Thungc (11)