Game one: Idaho vs Seattle University
Seattle University couldn’t stop Idaho’s team chemistry, as the Vandals were victorious against the Redhawks in a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) to earn their first win of the season.
Senior Katelyn Peterson made her presence known in the second half of each set and led the team with 12 kills. Peterson, along with Seattle’s Martina Samadan — who earned 13 kills — contributed to their team’s offense and kept the competition close with the final set being Idaho’s biggest margin of victory.
Attack errors near the end of each set hurt the Redhawks’ chances to stay undefeated.
The Redhawks totaled 22 attack errors with 11 of them from Iris Ivanis who also earned six kills.
Peterson said the team’s steadiness and communication helped the team pull off their first win. She also said Samadan brought her A-game, which the team set a target to stop her from defeating the Vandals defense on the court.
“We knew she was a huge hitter,” Peterson said. “We tried our best to just commit to her (Samadan) and get our hands over and get some touches on the ball…our blocks were up and the defenders really were solid in the back row, so they were able to dig her up and keep her up a little under control.”
Senior Meredith Coba — who led the team in assists with 19 — said that whenever Peterson touches the ball, it helps the team come together and make good plays.
Idaho’s defense kept Seattle from pulling away as its biggest deficit of the entire match took place in the second set with the Vandals down by six.
Individual kills from freshman sophomore Sarah Sharp and Peterson started Idaho’s strong run in the second set and went from being down 14-8 to win the second set 25-23.
“We started a little rocky but we came back and we proved that we can get them and handled them in three, which was awesome,” Coba said.
The match ended with an ace from sophomore Sami Parris to earn the Vandals’ fifth and final service ace, four in the final set.
Coach Debbie Buchanan was pleased with how the defense performed tonight.
“We dug a lot of balls and took them out of system,” Buchanan said. “Our defense made good adjustments that we asked them to make…besides just a few little shots that went down and we didn’t go–we hesitated–it was actually a good defensive performance tonight.”
Game two: Idaho vs UC Irvine
The Vandals were unable to pull of the win after a solid first-two sets, as UC Irvine captured the win 3-2.
Four UC Irvine players reached over 13 kills with senior Ella Rosenfeld leading the team with 15 in addition to her three block assists.
Idaho sophomores Torrin Crawford and Becca Mau each earned 13 kills, and senior Jenna Ellis added three service aces.
However, the Vandals had 12 service errors along the way with five coming in the fourth set. In the end, UC Irvine defeated Idaho after an attack error from Mau and a block from freshman Idara Akpakpa and junior Victoria Dennis.
Coach Debbie Buchanan said the team has to learn from their mistakes and fight in each set after Idaho’s attack percentage dropped in each set — its highest was .542 in the opening set.
“We played great for two games, we take a step back and [UC Irvine] started to get hot,” Buchanan said. “We got to be able to fight, reduce errors and compete a little bit. We let our mind take over the match.”
In the match deciding set, UC Irvine’s team attack percentage was a set high .667 to Idaho’s .071 — its lowest out of the five sets.
The Vandals totaled 34 errors with 12 coming from serving, while UC Irvine had 33 but only 7 service errors.
Buchanan said the loss is a reminder of how each team is competitive and they must fight for each match to earn wins because it won’t be handed to them.
“Each game got a little bit worse,” Buchanan said. “We didn’t take control of it, when you have a team that’s competing and playing out of their minds. We made [Seattle U] them look good and that’s something we’re definitely gonna have to get better.”
Game three: Idaho vs Washington State
After an intense back and forth battle between border rivals, Washington State swept Idaho 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-23). However, the Vandals kept fighting until the very end of each set.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said the Cougars 35 kills after two sets made the difference of the match, as Idaho had just 24. The Idaho defense was put to the challenge as junior Kyra Holt and freshman McKenna Woodford led the team with kills — Holt with 17 and Woodford with 15 — while freshman Sarah Sharp led the Vandals in kills with 11.
Despite the loss, Buchanan was content with Idaho’s performance without any concerns.
“We were right there — digging them, we were out blocking them, we had more aces, less service errors,” Buchanan said. “Just a matter of creating a little bit more offense and that’s something that were going to have to go back and keep doing. Other than that…we were doing the right things, were competing, were siding out, it was just that one portion.”
In the final set, Idaho had a higher attack percentage with .243 to Washington State’s .207. Also, the Vandals had 14 kills to the Cougars 11.
Senior Meredith Coba led the team in assists with 20 and sophomore Torrin Crawford earned four of the Vandals’ 13 block assists in the match.
With the Idaho Volleyball Classic now over, the Vandals will prepare for their third tournament in Portland, Oregon. Idaho plays its first match Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. against Cal Poly at the Chiles Center.
“We got to fix somethings before we play again,” Buchanan said. “We got to work in our offense, we got to work on shot selection, and do some off speed defensive plays so we can get better.”
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org