Saturday, September 8, 2007

Women's Vball Stanford Invitational 9/6 - 9/8

The Stanford invitational marked my first sporting event of the year as well as the first volleyball home stand. There were lots of athletes on opening night. I recognised members of the football team, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s water polo, men’s gymnastics, women’s basketball and women’s swimming among others. Lizzie Suiter (member of last year's volleyball team) was also in the stands.

St Mary's (3-0)
The freshmen looked good. Alix Klineman (AK) was welcomed to Maples in the 2nd game with a kill that hit her right in the face but she shook it off and recorded a career high 18 kills. We need to work out some of the kinks in our game, especially with passing (quite a few over-passes), service errors and communicating with each other, but the players showed a lot of hustle defensively. Favourite band moment was when they shouted John the Baptist as St Mary’s was about to serve.

Cal Poly (3-0)
Cal Poly had beaten BYU the previous night and I was interested to see how we would perform. We rose to the challenge and played much better than the night before. Very few over-passes and service errors, the block looked better and defensively we were solid. Gabi made some amazing digs. She’s going to be special. Our attack was very well rounded and Foluke was unstoppable. In the 3rd game, we slipped up a bit when AK and Bryn were subbed out but managed to eke out the win after they were brought back in. Favourite moment was when 5 girls with “I love Alex Fisher” signs came up to her after the game.

BYU (3-1)
Before the game, the team received recognition for its Pac-10 championship the previous year. Michelle Mellard and Kristin Richards were present to receive their awards. As Albert commented, we were lackadaisical in Game 1 after taking a lead, with several over-passes and service errors. BYU played a hell of a game too. I wasn't too worried about losing Game 1 though since it would put our team to the test and we could see how they responded. We came out really well in Games 2 and 3 with great defense, strong serving and getting great blocks. Game 4 belonged to Foluke who hammered down kill after kill. We struggled a little bit when she was out of the rotation but hung on to win. Favourite moment of the game was the absolute domination of Foluke in Game 4.

First of all for those of you who don't know, has a free, live webcast of home volleyball games with Rebecca's KZSU broadcast along with it. The video is what they show on the Maples video board, so it's a pretty good deal. The main things I got from this game in no particular order:

1) If Cynthia is not careful Gabi will become my new favorite player. I believe once she has a little more time to adjust she'll solidify our defense even more.

2) I was really surprised at how slowly BYU's block reacted to the slide to Foluke throughout the course of the game. With Foluke, Alix, and Cynthia, we have enough options to where if one of them is having a bad game, the other two can pick her up. However, at the same time I'd still like for Erin to get back her form from the end of last year. We're going to need all 4 of them plus not too big of a drop-off when Foluke rotates out to keep up with Pavan, Larson, Houghtelling, Stalls, and the rest of Nebraska.

3) Passing and serve receive looked pretty good minus the times in the 1st and 4th games where we let BYU go on a couple of a long runs on their serve. But on the whole, defense seems improved over last year. I didn't notice too many of the times where we just let balls drop between 2 defenders because of miscommunication like what seemed to happen all too often last year.

All in all, it was a great opening home stand. I know our freshman class was ranked #1 but seeing them play for the first time, I've been really impressed by the play of AK (no surprise), Gabi (she made some incredible digs) and Cassidy (very solid whenever she's on the court). The upperclassmen are doing their thing and if our block continues to improve, we serve well, and manage to stay healthy, we're in for a great ride. It's premature but I need to find a way to take my 7-10pm 13 Dec final at another time.

From Alex: They pretty much covered it, but I do have a photo to add:

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