Gonzaga’s volleyball team is coming off another historic weekend.
The Bulldogs defeated Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount on the same weekend for the first time. They knocked off Pepperdine for the first time since 1996.
Last year the Bulldogs had several breakthroughs en route to seven WCC wins, their most in two decades. They swept San Francisco and Santa Clara, their first sweep of a pair of WCC foes since 2001.
“It’s really validating for the kids because we’ve just asked them to work so hard at this and some days there’s no payoff,” coach Dave Gantt said. “But when you put yourself in a situation to have a weekend like we just did then you’re willing to extend yourself as a player and maybe take it to the next level.”
These milestones are possible, in part, because GU has had just one winning season (2007) since 1994 and hasn’t had a winning WCC record since 1994. But it also reflects a program on the rise in a tough 10-team conference that has had as many as three ranked teams and two others receiving votes.
Gantt said the quality of play in the four-set win over LMU “might be the best match played in our gym in years.”
Gonzaga (11-4, 2-2) is keeping its success in perspective.
“The next level for us is just representing ourselves with the confidence and worthiness that we can compete with anyone,” Gantt said. “All along my boss keeps asking me what our goals are – it’s to win the next play. I’m not going to put the kids or myself in that corner. We all know (the NCAAs) are a goal but until we get on the radar a little more we’re just trying to win the next point. And even when we get on the radar, we’re going to say the same thing.”
The Bulldogs visit USF on Thursday and Santa Clara on Friday. Both opponents are 2-2 in the middle of the WCC.
“When you look at it from the perspective of holding home court and stealing a win or two on the road,” Gantt said, “these are two prime candidates to steal one on the road.”
Friday’s match was originally scheduled for Saturday.
“There was an alumni event that got so huge they moved it to their arena,” Gantt said. “Good for Santa Clara, not so good for volleyball.”
Vandals soaring in Sky
The Idaho Vandals reside in a new conference but they’re in familiar territory. Idaho (7-9, 3-1) is second in the Big Sky North. Idaho finished at .500 or better every season in the Big West from 2003-04 and in the WAC from 2005-2013.
The Vandals visit Portland State and Sacramento State this week.
“I think we are just starting to hit our groove,” coach Debbie Buchanan said after sweeping Eastern Washington on Friday. “That is kind of what we expected. I do not think we have peaked yet and I think that is pretty exciting.”
EWU (5-12, 1-3) has dropped 10 of its last 11.
Washington State (9-7, 0-4 Pac-12) faces its sixth consecutive ranked opponent when it visits No. 11 Oregon on Friday. Senior outside hitter Jaicee Harris is the fourth player in WSU history to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She ranks in the top 10 in both categories. … Whitworth (11-4, 4-2 Northwest Conference) has a busy week with a road game tonight against Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston and conference home matches against George Fox on Friday and Lewis & Clark on Saturday. … North Idaho College (8-6, 2-2 Scenic West) entertains third-ranked College of Southern Idaho (22-1, 4-0) Saturday at 1. … Community Colleges of Spokane (18-10, 3-2 NWAC) entertains Columbia Basin tonight and Southern Idaho on Friday. … Baylor redshirt sophomore Sam Hill, a North Central High product, has 49 kills and 38 blocks. The 6-foot-3 middle blocker is a four-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection.
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