The Idaho volleyball team journey to the Big Sky Conference Championship ended early at the hands of No. 1 seed North Dakota.
The Fighting Hawks won their ninth consecutive game, defeating the Vandals 3-0 (18-25, 20-25, 17-25) Thursday in in Grand Forks.
Idaho (11-18, 6-10)
North Dakota faces Idaho State in the semifinals 5 p.m. Friday.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said the team needs to control the ball better..
“Offensively we did not do what we needed to do tonight,” Buchanan said. “North Dakota played real steady. We were in each of those sets for the most part. I thought our middles did a good job tonight. We just needed to get more productivity out of our pin-hitters.”
The Fighting Hawks started the first set with a 10-6 lead.
Idaho’s offense picked up the tempo with multiple kills and cut the lead to 17-13.
North Dakota regained control as the Vandals committed several attack errors.
A 5-0 run by the Fighting Hawks earned them the set.
Idaho led set two 3-1 lead, but North Dakota came back with a 5-0 run.
Kills from sophomore middle blocker DeVonne Ryter and sophomore outside hitter Kaela Straw put the Vandals back in front 9-8.
The set was tied at 14-14 and the Fighting Hawks pulled away with a 6-0 run.
North Dakota won set two 25-20.
The Vandals were unable to recover from the losses. North Dakota took set three 25-17 to advance in the tournament.
Idaho committed 25 errors including 10 in the third set.
Straw earned a match-high 11 kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Haylee Mathis earned her 10th double-double with 18 assists and 11 digs.
Senior defensive specialist Terra Varney grabbed 23 digs during the game and 1,477 digs in her career.
Varney is the only senior, leaving 15 returners on the roster.
Buchanan said the season had its share of ups and downs.
“We had a lot of injuries and adversity this season yet we were still able to reach the tournament,” Buchanan said. This is the hard part, being in the locker room at the end. We now need to make sure we are getting ready for this next year.”
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheLTFiles