Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Janessa Werhane had 22 digs in a losing effort for the Tritons on Saturday.
Western Washington Hands UCSD First Loss of 2010, 3-1
Release: Saturday 09/04/2010 

MONMOUTH, Ore. - The eighth-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, falling 3-1 to Western Washington on the final day of the Phoenix Inn GNAC Conference Classic hosted by Western Oregon University.

The Tritons won the opening set but the Vikings would rally to take the next three and hand UCSD a 25-19, 27-29, 22-25, 24-26 loss. UCSD falls to 2-1 on the season, while WWU improves to 3-0. The Vikings swept No. 10 Metro State and Humboldt State in tournament play on Friday.

Saturday's loss marks the Tritons' first regular season nonconference defeat since they dropped a 3-1 decision to defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Concordia-St. Paul to open the 2008 campaign. UCSD was a perfect 8-0 in nonconference action last season.

Marlayna Geary tallied a match-high 21 kills for Western Washington, while Kathryn Mertns added 20 and Emily Jepsen finished with 16. Allison Gotz led the Vikings with a match-high 27 digs.

Hillary Williamson paced UCSD with 17 kills and 24 digs, while Roxanne Brunsting finished with 15 and 19, respectively. Janessa Werhane totaled 22 digs, Katie Condon finished with 15 and Thalia McCann had 10. 

UCSD came out of the gates strong, taking a 12-5 lead in the opening set following a service ace from Julia Freidenberg and a Williamson kill. WWU closed to within 16-14 on an attack error by Brunsting, but consecutive Viking errors gave the Tritons a four-point cushion at 18-14. Five consecutive kills gave UCSD a 24-17 advantage and Williamson sent down the final point after WWU had pulled to within 24-19 on a kill by Mertns.

The Tritons led 18-13 following a Brunsting kill in set two, but Western Washington came roaring back and took a 23-22 advantage on a kill from Jepsen. The two squads traded the next eight points until Geary's kill tied the score at 27 all. Mertns followed with back-to-back kills to win the set for the Vikings and tie the match at 1-1.

Set three was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than three points. Trailing 21-20, UCSD rallied back to take a 22-21 lead on a kill by Audrey Green, but three straight Triton errors made it 24-22 in favor of the Vikings and Geary sent down the deciding kill.

Western Washington was in control early on in the fourth, taking a 16-10 lead on a kill by Jepsen. The Tritons trailed 19-14, but came back to tie it at 20 on an error by Mertns. UCSD tied the score again at 24 all after a error by Laurie Yearout, but two straight kills from Geary wrapped up the match for the Vikings.  

Western Washington hit just .199 for the match, but UCSD could manage only a .167 clip on the other side. The Vikings out-blocked the Tritons 15-9, while UCSD held a 4-1 ace advantage.

Head coach Ricci Luyties' squad will look to bounce back later tonight against host Western Oregon, as UCSD concludes the Phoenix Inn GNAC Challenge.   

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