Coming off an energetic sweep on Friday evening with Seattle University, the Gonzaga volleyball team won their match against the Air Force Academy Falcons, continuing their winning streak of the home invitational.
Opening the match, the Falcons took possession, but started off shaky. The Zags pulled into the lead quickly and came in strong with impressive blocking power and concentration that established their intent to dominate.
The Falcons put up a fight halfway through the set, keeping up with several long rallies, but ultimately falling short to the Zags’ teamwork and receiving. The Zags took the first set 25-17, looking confident going into the second set.
The second match started off strong for Gonzaga, but the Falcons found their groove and refused to give the Zags consecutive points.
We saw nine tie-scores in the second set, but going further into the game, the Zags’ confidence grew. Several block-outs began to tear away at the Falcon’s performance, but the set still went into a deuce, ending at 26-24.
As the third set began, the Zags’ exhaustion began to show. The Falcons started off powerfully, overwhelming the Bulldogs with their attacks and changing the lead four times throughout the set and tying the score 11 times, as consecutive points became nearly impossible.
Gonzaga challenged two plays during the match and received one change in their favor, but officials upheld the other. The Falcons also challenged a play and took a point back in the end.
The Falcons managed to keep the Bulldogs at bay in the third match, preventing another sweep for the Bulldogs. The set closed at 22-25, leaving the game at 2-1 and entering a fourth set.
A standout throughout the game was Alisa Kim, the libero whose receives kept the Bulldogs in the game several times.
“Our team talks a lot about staying consistent all the way through the match, and I thought we did a really good job. In the third set, we fought all the way through it, and I thought we came out really strong in the fourth set,” says Kim.
And the Bulldogs did indeed come out strong in the fourth set.
With high energy and determination, the Zags refused to stay down. The Falcons challenged a play right off the bat, but officials sustained the call.
Reminiscent of the first set, Gonzaga pulled out impressive power in their spikes and blocks and shaking the Falcons’ confidence.
The Bulldogs brought amazing synergy and immaculate focus to the match and handled the fourth set in a calm and collected way, dominating the Falcons in a game deciding match closing at 25-19.
Head coach Diane Nelson says that recovery is something that the Zags will focus on for tomorrow’s game against Oklahoma.
As they hope to ride a victory wave through the end of the weekend, Nelson states her complete confidence that the team will handle themselves in a mature and capable manner.
“It’s so good to be in a tight situation, that’s really important for us to learn, how to handle and manage that pressure. I think their response to going into a fourth set, knowing that they had to go into that extra set, was awesome,” says Nelson.
The Zags play Oklahoma tomorrow, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m., which will close out the Gonzaga Invitational.