| March 22, 2018

Volleyball: Climbing the Ranks

September 1, 2016

On the court, sophomore outside hitter Kaela Straw’s drive and game performance do the talking when she attacks the ball. Last season, she was well-known for her accomplishments.

But it’s the Idaho volleyball team’s success that Straw strives for more than personal stats.

Straw said her goal this season is for the team to establish great chemistry and produce solid numbers. The Vandals have finished above 0.50 in conference play for 13 straight seasons.

“My No. 1 goal is for my team to have a winning season,” Straw said. “I want all of us to do well as a team.”

Straw took a redshirt in 2014 making 2015 her first season playing collegiate volleyball.

The Spokane native said she had a fun season. One of her favorite moments of the season was winning the tiebreaker game at the Big Sky Conference North Division.

Straw said Idaho’s five-set win against North Dakota in the opening round of the Big Sky tournament Nov. 19 was another highlight.

The match was Straw’s first career start. She ended the game with a career-high 18 kills and was named Big Sky All-Tournament with 3.56 kills per set and a 0.42 hitting percentage.

Straw finished the season with 156 kills and 32 blocks in 70 sets.

Despite a solid end of the season, Straw sat out the spring season because of an injury.

Straw said she had a new focus at the end of her recovery period.

“I just wanted to get back with my team,” Straw said. “I wanted to just start the season off like we did. I think we started good and everyone is coming back from something and we’re just doing well.”

The Vandals opened their season last weekend, where they defeated Fairfield, Abilene Christian and tournament host New Mexico. It was the best start since going 5-0 in 2004.

The tournament was also Straw’s first game since her injury. She totaled a combined 34 kills with 13 against Abilene Christian and New Mexico.

Straw’s performance was good enough to earn her second career All-Tournament honors, joining fellow sophomore outside hitter Sarah Sharp.

Straw said the team’s 3-0 start showcases the team’s progress early in the season.

“I think as a team, we’re just really starting to put the bits and pieces together,” Straw said. “We’re just starting to work together as a team, we get along pretty well. We just need to control our errors and controlling what we can control in our half of the court.”

Straw said moving forward, the team will make further progress on their swings.

“We always want to get better,” Straw said. “Swinging high is going to be very important and not trying to have any errors will be key going forward.”

Luis Torres can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @TheLTFile

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