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Volleyball opens season with tournament in Alaska 

PSU volleyball started off their regular season playing in the Alaska Anchorage Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska. They went 1-3 in the tournament, falling to Point Loma University (California), University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and University of Alaska-Anchorage. 

“Despite going 1-3 in the tournament, I think there was really strong competition at the tournament and we learned a lot from the matches played,” said Jen Gomez, head coach. 

For day one, they started off against Point Loma University. They dropped that match 0-3, losing 17-25, 13-25, and lastly 18-25. 

Despite the loss, a handful of players were able to shine in the stats areas. Junior setter Janae Thurston finished with 10 kills and two digs, graduate student outside hitter Meg Auten had two kills with 11 digs and one assist, graduate student libero Marissa Bates had one kill, 17 digs, and three assists, and lastly graduate student setter Brianna Richards finished with one kill, seven digs, and 20 assists. 

After a loss in the first match, they went on to win 3-1 against Lubbock Christan University. They won set one in a close 25-23, then dropping set two 22-25. Pitt went on to win the next two sets, 25-18 and 25-19, winning the match. 

As well as the win, multiple players had high stats to end the day. Auten had 15 kills, 21 digs, one block and two assists, sophomore outside hitter Seville Gates finished with 14 kills, one dig, and one block. Bates had 25 digs with 4 assists, with freshman defensive specialist Josie McCroskey at 14 digs and 2 assists. Richards as well had three kills and 12 digs, with an astonishing 40 assists. 

“This tournament was a great chance to see a lot of players in different positions to help finalize our lineup to show our strengths the best we can and be solid defensively,” Gomez said. 

After day one sitting at 1-1, they went into day two and dropped both matches. They started the day against the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, losing 0-3. Set one was 20-25, then set two 18-25, and set three, a close 24-26. 

“ In those close sets, I really focused on seeing the team and seeing how they work through times of stress and struggle,” Gomez said. 

In the close games, some players were able to rack up great stats. Sophomore outside hitter Jayden Sanford finished with 10 kills and 12 digs, Thurston had 10 kills, 11 digs, and two blocks. Bates again played great, with 20 digs and three assists, and Richards having two kills, eight digs and another great 32 assists. 

They played their last match against University of Alaska-Anchorage, and again lost 0-3. Each set was close. Richards had seven kills, one block and 23 assists in this game, and Bates had 11 kills and two assists. 

Thurston was also selected to the all-tournament team after playing very well all weekend. 

“It was truly amazing, a once in a lifetime type experience..,” Gomez said. “The team got to hike and go on a glacier cruise tour, it truly was amazing.” 

After a tough start to the season, PSU Volleyball opens home play with their annual home Gorilla Classic Tournament playing against New Mexico Highlands, Mary University (Maryland), Arkansas Montecillo, and Cameron University starting on Friday Sept. 2-3 starting at 9 a.m. Friday and 11:30 Saturday. They then open conference play on Sept. 9 against University of Central Oklahoma. 

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