Volley Cougs Win Opening Match at Nike Cougar Invitational

Aug. 28, 2009

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PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State Cougars volleyball team opened the 2009 season with a 3-1 win over UC Davis Friday night in the second match of the Nike Cougar Invitational tournament before 931 fans in Bohler Gym. WSU won the match with set scores of 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, and 25-18.

This was the 18th time in the past 19 years that the Cougars have won their season-opening match and the fifth consecutive first match win.

WSU senior outside hitter Jackie Albright (Lake Forest, Calif.) led all players with 18 kills and also had 10 digs and two blocks. Junior middle blocker Brittany Tillman (Lakewood) added 11 kills, hitting .429 on the night, and three blocks. Senior middle blocker Cassie Robbins (Yakima) had 10 kills, hit .389, and led the match with six blocks. Senior libero Kelly Hyder (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led the Cougs with 14 digs and senior setter Renee Bordelon (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) had 42 assists and the lone WSU service ace of the night.

A pair of Cougar freshmen had impressive collegiate debuts. Right side hitter Rachel Todorovich (Walla Walla) had seven kills and five blocks, and Oceana Bush (Spokane) played left side hitter, defensive specialist and libero positions in the match, contributing three kills (.300), 9 digs and one solo block.

Washington State hit .250 as a team and held UC Davis to a .158 hitting percentage. The Cougars out-blocked the Aggies 12 to 7.

UC Davis' Allison Whitson and Kayla Varney combined for 28 kills and Carson Lowden had 48 assists and a team-high five blocks. Varney, Lowden and Avreeta Singh each had 15 digs. The Aggies did not land a service ace.

'With Oceana starting off in the left front, that gave us a little more ball control and we weren't as flashy as we had been in practice,' Cougar Head Coach Andrew Palileo said. 'But everything seemed a little more steady and the team chemistry wasn't too bad for having Oceana play there just the past few days in practice.'

WSU hit .440 as a team in the opening set with senior middle blocker Robbins a perfect five-for-five (1.000) in kills and added a pair of blocks. The Cougars broke away from the Aggies after several ties up to a score of 15-all.

The Cougars came out strong in the second set and never relinquished the lead. UC Davis stopped WSU three times at set point but a push from Robbins gave the Cougs the 25-21 win. WSU hit .214 in this set but held UC Davis to a .050 hitting percentage. Albright and Todorovich each contributed five kills in this set.

WSU went to the bench to begin the third set and the Aggies ran up a 15-11 lead and extended it to a 25-21 win. UCD hit .318 and held the Cougs to a mere .179 in this set. UCD's Whitson had eight kills in this set.

With the starters back in for Washington State, the Cougars made quick work of the final set, hitting .235 and limiting the Aggies to a hitting percentage of .029, on the way to a 25-18 win.-

'I think our middle worked really hard today and played really well. They were effective and we have been working on that,' Albright said.

Reflecting on her first match playing in a Cougar uniform, Bush said, 'After the first couple of points my mind calmed down because it was a little overwhelming with the crowd and the team yelling and it's a lot of adrenalin but once you get out it's like, this is what I came to do, this is what I know how to do.'

In the opening match of the tournament, Portland swept Montana State with set scores of 25-21, 25-18, 25-16. Portland's Jessica Clemens led all players with 13 kills while Maria Clemens added 11 kills, and Kaylyn Jones had 22 assists and Jessica Baty added 16 digs for the Pilots. The Bobcats were led by Kylie Edinger and Kyla Hendry with 7 kills each as Nicole Grypiuk had 21 assists.

The Saturday Nike Cougar Invitational tournament schedule is: Portland vs. UC Davis (10 a.m.), WSU vs. Montana State (12:30 p.m.), Montana State vs. UC Davis (4:20 p.m.), and WSU vs. Portland (7 p.m.). All matches are in Bohler Gym and there is no charge to attend.

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