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The Weber State University volleyball team started its season off with a bang this past weekend. The Wildcats were crowned as co-champions with Texas Tech University with a record of three wins and one loss during Wildcat Weekend. The lone loss was to the Red Raiders of TTU in the tournament finale.
McKay Tarbox, a junior at WSU, was named one of the most valuable players of the tournament after her school-record-setting 42 digs against the University of California, Riverside. Wildcats Audrey Biggs and Rebecca Fuchs were named to the all-tournament team.
The Wildcats started their weekend off with a five-set thriller (23-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-23,15-9) against one of the newest members of the Western Athletic Conference, Grand Canyon University. WSU combined for 21 blocks during the match and was led by freshman Megan Bean, who contributed 13 blocks, four of those being solo.
Head coach Tom Peterson said he was impressed not only by the amount of blocks his players had but also the effort and determination they had to win the match.
“We had probably our best offensive performance against a really good team. I had a great feeling that could score points when we needed to,” Peterson said. “We were just a little bit better than them offensively. We had 21 blocks. That would lead the country if we did that every match. We are finding out that we have guts and just playing every game with intensity. We won as a team. We dug just a little bit deeper to win.”
WSU kept that momentum going as it beat another member of the WAC, Seattle University, late Friday night in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-21). The first set went back and forth until Fuchs sent a vicious spike through the SU defense to give WSU a 13-12 lead. WSU did not look back as it outscored SU 13-9 to take the set.
The second set was full of runs from both teams. Just as it seemed WSU was pulling away, Kerry Lane from SU helped her team tie the set at 19-19. WSU responded with four straight points to put the match out of reach, and Fuchs finished the match with one of her spikes.
WSU had control of the third set as its front line disrupted the way SU ran its offense. A key contributor was freshman Katie Harvey, who made some key blocks and helped disrupt the flow of the game. Biggs continued her solid tournament with 12 kills and came up big in important spots in the match. Beating the Redhawks marked the first time in 15 years WSU has started a season 2-0.
“I thought we did really good as a team, but as the day progressed, we just got better and better,” Biggs said. “Our defense got better, and our offense was hitting lights out during that last night. I get pretty amped up when I play. My philosophy is if I get blocked, I just need to swing harder. I had the confidence that my teammates would pick me up if needed.”
WSU built on its success from the night before as it beat UCR in another five sets (20-25, 25-19, 25-13, 26-28, 15-11). Tarbox’s performance fueled the team when she was able to build on the personal best of 26 digs she had set earlier in the tournament. Tarbox set a school record with 42, and Whitney Hunt set a personal best of 44 assists.
After losing the first set, WSU rallied to take the next two sets and had a late lead in the fourth set until the Highlanders gained momentum and forced a fifth set. WSU only trailed once in the fifth set as it put the match away to improve to 3-0.
The Red Raiders of TTU seemed to be a little too much for the Wildcats when they won the match 25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 25-14. Hunt had her second-straight 40 assists and a career high of 15 digs, while Harvey recorded seven blocks. The team finished with a combined 12.5 blocks. The Wildcats seemed ready to put themselves back into the match in the third set as they held a late lead, but let it slip away to the Red Raiders, who rode that momentum to finish the match in the fourth set.
The Wildcats will next travel to Reno, Nev., to take part in the Wolfpack Invitational, where they will face off against the University of Nevada on Friday morning.