Despite a hard fought effort, the Gonzaga University volleyball team (5-10, 1-3 WCC) was defeated by the University of the Pacific in four sets.
The Zags started off strong with a dominant first set led by outside hitters Zoe Thiros and McKenna Marshall. Marshall led the set with five kills followed by Thiros with four. The Zags also took early advantage of Pacific team errors, including multiple out of bounds hits and missed blocks. The Zags built up an early 10 point lead and won the set 25-21 on a Kennedy Croft kill.
The second set was a hard fought battle ultimately leading to a Zag loss. The play was back and forth for the entire set, as no team led by more than three points the entire set. Juliette Russel stood out both offensively with a balanced two kills and two blocks in the second set. The final score of the set was 23-25.
The Zags went up 2-0 early in the third set, but Pacific quickly went on a run lead by sophomore Darina Kumanova, who had back-to-back aces and five kills in the set. Despite a hard fought effort, the Zags did not take a lead for the rest of the game. Pacific was red hot in the third set with a 71% hitting percentage and 15 total kills. The Zags lost set three, 20-25.
The Zags were unable to build momentum going into the fourth set. Despite a strong effort led by outside hitter Kennedy Croft, the Zags had a game-low 40% hitting percentage and a game- high seven errors for the set. The Zags were defeated in set four 18-25.
Head Coach Diane Nelson feels that the loss can be a learning moment for the team and help them see what they need to improve on.
“Every game is a chance for us to learn and grow, and we keep learning more about ourselves," Nelson said. "The outcome wasn't what we wanted. We got a little flat at times, but I also think some of our highs were really awesome, so we got to build on those.”
Sophomore Zoe Thiros believes a key for the Zags is to focus on being more gritty for the entire game.
“Being a blue collar team in practice and being gritty is what we rely on, so I think that over the next two days, we will intentionally focus on scoring faster. Putting your foot down and saying ‘enough is enough’ is what we got to do.” Thiros said. “We need to be in the driver’s seat more with our confidence and knowing that we are good.”
The Zags will be headed on a two game road trip for games at San Diego on Oct. 7 and BYU on Oct. 9. Coach Nelson believes there are a few things the team needs to focus on to make the necessary improvements needed to win.
“We are always trying to clean up our blocking, and then what happens behind that is what's next,” Nelson said. “Serving tough and blocking will be huge.”