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WSU’s Bettinson earns MVP honors at Notre Dame volleyball tournament

Close followers of the Washington State University volleyball team know about Kyra Holt, Emmy Allen and Haley MacDonald, prized recruits in the Cougars’ nationally ranked 2013 class.

They’re well aware of four-year starter Jaicee Harris, standout libero Kate Sommer and middle blocker Ver’Leea Hardaway, whose hitting percentage last season ranked in the top five in program history.

And now Chelsey Bettinson is becoming a familiar name. The senior middle blocker from Richland waited her turn for three years for significant playing time and she’s making the most of the opportunity.

Bettinson made the all-tournament team at a season-opening tournament in Missoula. She was named MVP at the Notre Dame Golden Dome Invitational last weekend. She had a career-high 22 kills in a victory over host Notre Dame.

“She hit over .500 for the weekend,” coach Jen Greeny said. “That’s pretty tough to do.”

The 6-foot-1 Bettinson played in 40 sets in each of her junior and sophomore seasons after registering 97 kills in 80 sets as a freshman. She was Pac-12 all-academic honorable mention the last two seasons.

“She has had the versatility to play every position so early on in her career we weren’t sure where to put her,” Greeny said. “She played right-side in her sophomore and junior years. As a freshman she played on the outside. She did play a little middle last year (backing up Marcelina Glab and Hardaway).

“She’s kind of a player that has really found her groove.”

Bettinson’s 74 kills rank just behind Holt’s 75 for the team lead. She’s in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in kills per set (3.36), hitting percentage (.387) and blocks per set (1.55).

“Chelsey had knee problems early on and I think that hampered her a little bit,” Greeny said. “She’s done a great job of getting in the training room and the weight room and getting stronger.”

Eagles return

Eastern Washington finished 4-2 on an 11-day road trip to North and South Carolina. It’s the best start since 2006 for the Eagles, who have won three five-set matches, including twice coming back from 0-2 deficits. EWU won just two five-set matches in 2013.

“I really like the way we finish,” interim coach Michael King said. “We definitely need a little work on how we start off in terms of our mind set. I’m very, very pleased and very proud of the perseverance the team displays throughout matches.”

Senior Kelsey Julian has led the Eagles in kills in four matches. EWU is 4-0 in those matches.

The Eagles are back in the Inland Northwest to participate in the Idaho Nike Invitational in Moscow. EWU will face Portland on Friday and Missouri and Boise State on Saturday.

Tournament host Idaho (2-5) meets Missouri on Thursday, Boise State on Friday and Portland on Saturday.

Pirates rolling

Whitworth has won seven straight matches, including four straight to capture the Whit Classic last weekend in Walla Walla. Tournament MVP Maddye Dinsmore, a junior setter, had 131 assists, 15 kills and seven aces in four wins.

“I’m seeing a lot of great things,” said second-year coach Kati Bodecker, whose team has a break before opening Northwest Conference play against Pacific Lutheran on Sept. 19 and Puget Sound on Sept. 20. “I really like our defense; it has kept us in a lot of matches. Our defense combined with our conditioning level and our physicality is what’s helping us be successful. We worked hard in the offseason.”

Notes

Gonzaga (5-1) is off to the best start in coach Dave Gantt’s six seasons. The Zags, led by MVP Savannah Blinn and all-tournament selections McKayla Ferris and Jordan Gasser, went 3-0 to win the Gonzaga Invitational last weekend. The Bulldogs will face Wyoming, Weber State and Furman in Laramie this weekend. …The Cougars (5-1) are traveling more than halfway across the country for the second straight week. They’ll meet Virginia Tech, Belmont and No. 12 Illinois in Murfreesboro, Tenn. … Spokane (6-5) visits Walla Walla University on Thursday and plays in the Walla Walla Invitational Friday and Saturday. … North Idaho College (4-4) has its home opener Friday against Great Falls’ JV. The same two teams meet Saturday at 2. … …Rocky Mountain College defeated No. 1 Texas-Brownsville, No. 2 Concordia and No. 8 Biola at a tournament last week in Butte. Yang Yang, an NJCAA All-American at North Idaho College, led the way with 59 kills, earning her NAIA national player of the week honors.

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