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Volleyball notebook: GU starts WCC play

A school-record eight-match winning streak. Eleven wins overall, the most in 11 seasons. The best start to a season in 17 years.

Gonzaga volleyball has already reached several milestones, putting the program in a positive frame of mind as it begins the most important part of its season. The Bulldogs (11-4) open West Coast Conference play on the road against Saint Mary’s on Thursday and Santa Clara on Saturday.

“I couldn’t be happier and the nice thing is we feel like we could have won a couple more out of the preseason,” head coach Kip Yoshimura said. “Everything that happened made us a better team, including our losses. We scheduled knowing we have a senior-laden team. We weren’t looking for easy Ws.”

The WCC hasn’t been kind to GU over the past decade. The Bulldogs haven’t won more than five WCC matches in a season and they’re 1-9 in conference openers over the last 10 years. Conference favorites include No. 15 San Diego, Santa Clara, which dropped out of the rankings a week ago, and Pepperdine.

“There’s a lot of parity. I think we’ll be in every match and hopefully we’ll win our share,” Yoshimura said. “Our expectations are higher than they’ve ever been.”

Cougars return to Bohler

Washington State, which has lost five straight and six of the last seven, gladly returns to Bohler Gym after playing 12 consecutive matches away from home. But the schedule doesn’t get any easier as No. 8 Washington (13-0, 2-0 Pac-10) will try for its ninth straight win over WSU (9-7, 0-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.

“They have a great deal of depth and their juniors and seniors have been instrumental in sustaining the success they’ve had,” WSU coach Brian Heffernan said. “More than anything, we need to limit the errors on our side and our focus needs to be on getting better and our own improvement.”

WSU lost last weekend at No. 21 Oregon and Oregon State, which snapped a 19-match Pac-10 losing streak.

“We managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” Heffernan said of the five-game loss to OSU. “And Saturday (against Oregon) we just came out and laid an egg.”

Sasquatch face main rival

Community Colleges of Spokane (18-5, 4-0 NWAACC) tangles with East Division rival Columbia Basin (13-0, 4-0) tonight in Pasco. The Sasquatch lost a five-game, non-conference thriller earlier this season to Columbia Basin – their only loss to an area team.

“Last year they were the ones to beat. The year before we beat them,” CCS coach Jenni Rosselli said. “It’s always a huge rivalry.”

Quick sets

Eastern Washington, off to a 3-1 start in the Big Sky, entertains Northern Colorado on Thursday and Northern Arizona on Saturday. The Eagles started the 2006 conference season 0-5 before finishing 10-6. … Idaho (2-1) visits Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State this week. … North Idaho College, 2-0 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, has its first home matches of the season this week. Snow visits Thursday at 7, followed by a showdown with Salt Lake (30-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday. Salt Lake, ranked No. 2 in the most recent NJCAA poll, visits No. 11 Southern Idaho on Thursday.


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