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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho rides roller coaster past Gonzaga

Debbie Buchanan wasn’t particularly pleased with the way her University of Idaho volleyball team played in losing to Eastern Washington early last week, but she had no qualms about the way her Vandals responded Monday night in sweeping past Gonzaga University 3-0 in front of a Martin Centre crowd of 541.

“It seems like lately we’ve been on a roller coaster, but I thought we put it all together tonight,” Buchanan said after watching her veteran team dismantle the overmatched Bulldogs 30-27, 30-26, 30-18. “Everyone out there was doing the right things. I didn’t think we had a really weak spot all night.”

The Vandals (8-3) dominated this non-conference match from the start, hitting .385 and getting 20 kills from senior middle blocker Sarah Meek, who made only one error and hit a remarkable .731.

“Sarah had just a great game against us,” GU coach Kip Yoashimura said after watching his Bulldogs fall to 4-9. “Their whole team really played well. We hit .325 as a team, and that might be a season high for us. But you can’t expect to win when you block the way we did.”

Buchanan, too, was impressed with the play of the 6-foot-1 Meek, who also had a couple of blocks and three digs.

“She can dominate, just with how physical she is,” Buchanan said. “But I’m really proud of everybody. We have some high goals set for this season. We’ve hit a couple of bumps so far, but our kids look like they don’t want that to happen again.”

Buchanan was especially proud of the approach her team took toward the improving Bulldogs, who have already equaled their win total of last season.

“This is probably the best team Gonzaga has had since I’ve been here,” she said. “Like I told our team, ‘You have to respect your opponent and make sure you’re focusing on the right things, because if we get careless, Gonzaga is good enough to beat us.’

“And I thought we did a really good job of respecting what they do and taking care of business.”

Gonzaga, which has lost five of its last six matches, was led by seniors Christina Davis and Lauren Armas, who combine for 31 kills. Armas hit .571 for the match. Davis, who also had a team-high 15 digs, hit .255.

The Bulldogs also got a superb effort from senior setter Emilee Gihring, who finished with 49 assists to tie for the third-highest single match total in GU history. But Idaho’s senior setter Mandy Becker was even more impressive, handing out 51 assists.