Aug. 25, 2007
Tucson, AZ - Saint Mary's finished the Four Points by Sheraton University Plaza Wildcat Classic with a tough match against the host school, Arizona. The Gaels defeated the Wildcats in front of a crowd of 1,128, by scores of 30-26, 27-30, 20-30, 30-21, 16-14. The Wildcats received 44 votes in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Preseason Poll, but they could not overcome the Gaels determination.
The Gaels were led throughout the match by Junior Taylor Groess . Groess tallied a career high with 25 kills in the match, recording a .250 hitting percentage in five games. Tournament MVP Megan York added 21 kills and 22 digs, to mark her second double-double of the tournament. Freshman setter Kapua Kamana'o also recorded a double-double, with 63 assists and 14 digs. As a team the Gaels accumulated 77 kills, 91 digs, 13 blocks, and five aces.
In game one Saint Mary's was led by Groess, with seven kills on 17 swings. The Gaels frustrated their opponent throughout the game, tallying five total team blocks and 22 digs. Freshmen Kelly Huston and Kapua Kamana'o led the Gaels in digs with seven and six respectively. Saint Mary's held their opponents to .106 hitting percentage in the first game, while the Gaels hit for .298. Junior Brittany Barker came up big for the Gaels late in game one, putting down two of her four kills to put Saint Mary's up 23-22. Barker was 4-of-5 in game one, hitting for an impressive .800 average. With the score tied at 26 apiece sophomore middle blocker Megan Burton exploded for Saint Mary's with a huge solo block to put the Gaels up by one. The Gaels would never look back, defeating the Wildcats 30-28.
In game two Arizona increased their level of play, defeating the Gaels 27-30. The Wildcats were led by junior opposite Randy Goodenough, who caught on fire, tallying 10 kills in game two. Saint Mary's was led by York, with three kills and six digs. The Gaels would be defeated in a hard fought battle, losing 27-30.
The Wildcats would lead throughout game three, defeating the Gaels 30-20. Goodenough would continue to cause problems for the Gaels, recording six kills on 11 swings. Arizona's hitting ignited, posting a .359 hitting percentage in game three. Freshman middle blocker Shannon Lowell boosted the Gaels late in game three with two consecutive kills, pulling Saint Mary's to 20-26. But her efforts would not be enough as the Wildcats would go on to score four consecutive points.
The Gaels would not give up in game three, led by Groess with nine kills and Huston with eight digs. The Wildcats aced Saint Mary's to start the game, but the Gaels continued to fight, exchanging points back and forth throughout the game. York would rally off two aces in her nine point serving run, to put the Gaels up 18-26, while freshman setter Kamana'o would kill two overpasses in the run. Saint Mary's would never lose the lead, defeating the Wildcats 30-21.
Game five was a barn burner with seven ties and four lead changes. The Wildcats reached eight first, leading to the fifth game side change. York blasted one from the back-row to put the Gaels down one, 8-7, but Arizona continued to pressure the Gaels' hitters with big blocks. Groess tallied a big kill on the outside to push the Gaels to eight and a dig by York would give Saint Mary's nine.
An Arizona net would pull the Gaels closer, and a Lowell kill would put the Gaels down one, 13-12. Saint Mary's would tie the game at 14 a piece on a York kill, and Lowell would put away an over-pass to take the first lead of the game. Groess would tally the game winning kill, defeating the Wildcats 16-14.
The Gaels continue play in California next weekend, facing CSU Bakersfield on September 1 and Fresno State on September 2.