Gonzaga volleyball kept rolling on Saturday and for a change – and a nice break for coach Diane Nelson’s heart rate – the Bulldogs didn’t need any fifth-game theatrics.
The Bulldogs continued to explore uncharted territory by putting away Loyola Marymount 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 on Saturday at the Martin Centre.
Gonzaga (11-7, 6-0) won its first five West Coast Conference matches in five-set marathons, including Thursday’s victory over Pepperdine that pushed the Zags to 6-0 for the first time in program history. Gonzaga joined the WCC in volleyball in 1987.
“Eight weeks ago I thought I wasn’t going to win a match this year in conference,” Nelson said. “But we’ve been working at it. As unpredictable as we can be I thought we were on a mission today. Their faces said every ounce of it. They’re earning every point so I’m proud of them. I can’t take any credit for that.”
Middle blockers Alyse Whitaker and Payton Mack combined for 16 kills with just two errors on 41 swings. Freshmen outside hitters Sarah Penner (10 kills) and Chapin Gray (seven) contributed to Gonzaga’s balanced attack.
The Zags dominated at the net with Mack posting three solo blocks and four block assists. Whitaker had one block and three assists. LMU didn’t register a solo block.
Mack’s block sealed Gonzaga’s 25-23 win in the second set. Whitaker had a couple of kills in the Zags’ 4-0 run to close out a 25-21 victory in the third set.
“When we can pass and get them the ball, I let them go,” Nelson said. “I knew if we could get our middles involved, our middles could stay ahead of their middles. When we got in passing trouble we were shaky. When we were passing well they’ve couldn’t stop our offense.”
The Zags’ face the toughest road trip in the WCC, visiting No. 19 San Diego and No. 8 BYU next week.
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