BY NATE WEK
SDSU’s volleyball team was victorious against Gonzaga at a weekend tournament in Spokane, Wash. The Jacks went undefeated with wins against Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and UC-Riverside.
SDSU opened with a five-set win over the host Bulldogs and followed with back-to-back four-set wins over Eastern Washington and UC-Riverside.
Head coach Phil McDaniel said he was proud of his team’s play.
“I think our blocking schemes were solid and we played well with our speed,” he said, adding that his team might have played its most controlled games of the season.
Despite a solid start, there is reason for skepticism this early in the season. In 2011, the Jacks came through a similar stretch at 6-3 before watching it fall apart during conference play, losing 16 of their final 18 matches. But McDaniel feels good about the way his team has played thus far.
“I think we are more confident, more of a confident group overall. The confidence has shown itself through our players,” McDaniel said.
SDSU was led by its two middle blockers, Kelli Fiegen and Kaitlin Klingemann. Fiegen was the tournament’s MVP with 45 kills, hitting a solid .416 hitting percentage and 23 blocks. Klingemann was not far behind with 37 kills, nine digs and four service aces. Fiegen earned Summit League Player of the Week for the fifth time in her career at SDSU.
“She brings energy, athleticism, length and speed. Put that all together with timing and she is a force offensively and defensively,” McDaniel said. “Kelli is a special player that most teams don’t have the pleasure of having. She is fun to watch and coach.”
The Jackrabbits have six seniors adding to the veteran leadership on and off the court.
Other players who stepped up this weekend were Shay Birath and Lexi Fowler. Birath led the Jackrabbits with 47 digs in the three matches. Fowler, the Jacks leading setter, added 84 set assists to facilitate the Jacks’ offense.
SDSU hosts the Jackrabbit Invitational at Frost Arena this weekend with a pair of matches, first with visiting Green Bay Friday and Bradley on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.