Central volleyball falls in defensive shootout with western - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Central volleyball falls in defensive shootout with western

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Central Washington University senior Erika Stevens (Fairbanks, Alaska/Lathrop HS) had a season-high 32 digs, and the Wildcats as a team finished with a season-best 109 digs, but they were unable to overcome archrival Western Washington in falling to the visiting Vikings 30-18, 28-30, 30-21, 30-28 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference volleyball action on Saturday night at Nicholson Pavilion.

The Wildcats saw their three-match win streak snapped, falling to 4-10 overall and 3-2 in GNAC play. Western Washington kept pace with the conference leaders on Saturday, improving to 4-1 in conference and 8-4 overall.

A defensive battle throughout, the two teams exchanged numerous long rallies and several tie scores. All told, there were 30 ties and 11 lead changes in the match, including 15 deadlocked scores in game two -- the Wildcats' lone game victory of the night.

Western closed out game one with a 17-5 run to cruise to the 12-point win, but Central stormed back and emerged victorious after scoring the game's final two points. Neither team lead by more than three points in the second frame, but the Wildcats picked up a kill by junior Rachael Schurman (Spokane, Wash./Mead HS) and a controversial violation for the final point in game two.

The Vikings led from start-to-finish in game number three, in the only game that was never in doubt. Central made a push in game four, with seven ties and a pair of lead changes in the final frame, and the Wildcats led midway through the game, but Western Washington reeled off six straight points behind the service of Courtney Schneider to take a 25-20 lead that sparked the Vikings to the victory.

In the defensive battle, Western finished with a 123-109 edge in digs. Schneider led that effort with a school- and conference-record 50 digs, surpassing her previous mark of 49. Teammate Emily Castro added 30 digs for the Vikings.

Central's back row efforts, which featured four players in double figures, were sparked by Stevens' 32, two shy of her own school record. Teammate Brandie Vea (Kaimuki, Hawaii/Kalani HS) chipped in with a career-high 20, while setter Maggie Olson (Seattle, Wash./Mount Si HS) added 18 and freshman Kady Try (Brentwood, Calif./Mead HS) finished with 16.

Hitting errors plagued the Wildcats on Saturday night, as they finished with a season-low .061 hitting percentage. Schurman, who had entered play as the most efficient hitter in the conference this season, was contained to 10 kills and a .104 hitting percentage.

Both teams blocked especially well, with Western totaling 18 blocks to Central's 11.5 team blocks. Angie Alvord led all players with 10 total blocks (2 solo, 8 assisted) for the Vikings, while the Wildcats' duo of senior Bree Brandt (Bellingham, Wash./Meridian HS) and Norris tallied eight and seven, respectively. For Brandt, it was a career-high effort at the net.

On the offensive side of things, Norris led four Wildcats in double digits with a career-high-tying 16 kills. Junior Kayla Roof (Eatonville, Wash.) established a career-high with 12 kills, while Try (11) and Schurman (10) also reached double figures. Norris fired four service aces as well.

Western was led by the 20-kill performance from Jaime Anderson, while Tiana Roma added 16 and Alvord 12 in the winning effort.

Central Washington will hit the road for a pair of matches next week. The Wildcats take on Seattle University on Thursday (Sept. 27) before traveling to Montana State Billings next Saturday (Sept. 29).