WWU opens volleyball season with 3-0 win over No. 10 Metro State
Western Washington University opened its 2010 volleyball season with a 3-0 win over Metro State, ranked No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll. Western won 25-18, 25-17 and 25-18.
Metro State is one of three preseason top 10 nationally ranked teams WWU faces this weekend as it opens the 2010 volleyball campaign at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Challenge.
Matches will be played at host Western Oregon in Monmouth, Ore., and at Central High School in Independence, Ore.
The next match for the Vikings is against Humboldt State at 8 p.m. today.
On Saturday, Western meets No.8 UC San Diego at 10 a.m. and No.2 Cal State San Bernardino at 5 p.m. CSUSB has won the last two West Region titles. Both of Western's morning matches take place at WOU and its two evening matches are at CHS.
The Vikings, who have won their last five season openers, return every starter and all 11 letter winners from last year's team that finished 17-10 and narrowly missed out on a berth in the NCAA Division II West Regional. They are coached by Diane Flick, who enters her 11th season with a career record of 213-60. Her .780 winning percentage is the best in school history and ranks ninth among active NCAA II coaches.
Leading a long list of returnees for Western are sophomore outside hitter Marlayna Geary (Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep) and junior middle blocker Emily Jepsen (Kennewick/Kamiakin). Geary was a first-team all-GNAC selection and GNAC Freshman of the Year, as well as being the AVCA West Region Freshman of the Year. Jepsen was a second-team all-GNAC pick. G eary led Western in kills at 3.87 a set, and was second in digs at 2.96.
Jepsen averaged 2.82 kills and a team-high 1.12 blocks last season while posting a team best .255 attack efficiency. She also shared the team lead in service aces with 26.
Senior libero Allison Gotz (Bothell/Archbishop Murphy) was an honorable mention all-GNAC pick last season after being a second-team selection as a sophomore when she also earned AVCA honorable mention All-America recognition. Gotz averaged a team-high 5.24 digs a set, which ranked fourth in the GNAC, and also added 25 service aces. She ranks sixth in school history in career digs.
Western is especially deep at setter, with two experienced players battling for time. Senior Kari Rice (Toppenish/Eisenhower) started in 2008 prior to redshirting last season. Rice was an honorable mention all-GNAC pick that year, leading the conference in assists (11.67). Sophomore Laurie Yearout (Spokane/Lewis & Clark) handled the duties last year, averaging 10.57 assists a set and sharing the team lead in aces with 26.
There's a recent precedent at Western for an experienced team making the most of its opportunities. The Vikings were 18-7 in 2006, returned almost everyone, and in 2007 went 26-5 in making a run to the national championship match.
Last fall, the Vikings were denied one of eight berths in the West Regional after being ranked among the top eight in the last regular-season regional poll and sweeping their final match. In 2008, they were sixth in the final regular-season rating and won their last two matches, finishing 21-3.