Volleyball Tops UC Santa Barbara, 3-1

Sept. 11, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – With a final block by freshman Alyssa O’Neil (West Linn, Ore.), the Oregon State volleyball team (6-2) took the first match of the UNLV Alexis Park Invitational with a 3-1 win over UC Santa Barbara (5-2), 25-21, 25-23, 20-25, 28-26.


“I thought our freshmen did a really good job, especially Ashley coming in for Kiersten and Alyssa with the phenomenal block to put away the match,” head coach Taras Liskevych said. “We had good defense and good blocking. We played a good team, and we just need to continue to be tenacious from beginning to end.”


Outside hitters junior Jill Sawatzky (St. Andrews, Manitoba) and seniors Rachel Rourke (Queensland, Australia) and Bree Knitter (Fallbrook, Calif.) led all Oregon State hitters with a combined 30 kills of the team’s 54. Sawatzky had 15, Rourke with 13 and Knitter added 12.


The Beavers easily cruised through the first set, making tough defensive plays and holding strong at the net. Oregon State outblocked UC Santa Barbara 5-1, led by junior Kiersten Sambrailo’s (St. Andrews, Manitoba) three block assists. Offensively, Knitter continued to be hot as she terminated a set-high five balls to lead the Beavers’ 14 total.


Heading into the second set, the two teams tied things up nine times with three lead changes before the Gauchos burned their first timeout at the 15-13 mark. UCSB took the lead back at 19-18, but the Beavers battled back to retake the lead behind Knitter’s solid hitting and strong walls at the net to lead at 24-21. The Gauchos threatened at 24-23, but an attack error by Rebecca Saraceno put the set away in favor of Oregon State, giving the Beavers a 2-0 advantage.


Coming out of the long break, the Gauchos struck first, leading by as many as seven at 10-17. But the Beavers were unable to recover as they were held to mainly sideout points throughout the set. Making some impact were freshmen Megan McBride (Auburn, Wash.), Ashley Eneliko (Seattle, Wash.) and Camille Saxton (Balzac, Alberta), helping the team battle back to within four at 24-20, but a kill by Leah Sully pushed the match to the fourth set with the Beavers still leading 2-1.


Set four started similarly to the second set with the two teams exchanging ties and lead changes. Oregon State pulled ahead at the 18-17 mark behind the serving of sophomore Betsy Devich (Kirkland, Wash.) before senior Camilla Ah-Hoy (Laie, Hawai’i) helped build the Beavers’ largest lead at 21-17, throwing the Gauchos off their serve-receive game with her float serves. Battling back and forth, O’Neil put away the set with a solo block, her first of the season.


Ah-Hoy collected her fifth double-double of the season with 41 assists and a team-high 14 digs. Devich was close behind with 10 digs. Senior Lexie Rathgeber (White Rock, British Columbia), Sawatzky and Sambrailo paced all blockers at the net with five each of the team’s 16.5.


UC Santa Barbara, who received 28 votes in last week’s AVCA Top 25 Poll, good for 32nd, was paced offensively by Rebecca Saraceno with a match-high 21 kills. Libero Chelsey Lowe had a match-high 23 digs.


Oregon State wraps up play in the UNLV Alexis Park Invitational against the host team, the Rebels, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Cox Pavilion.


Oregon State Notes – Oregon State is now 2-1 in four-set matches … Senior Brittney Belshe set a new career best for digs with two … Senior Camilla Ah-Hoy set a new season high for digs with 14.


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