Broncos Win Boise State Invitational
Harden named MVP, Gammel and Whitney make all-tournament team.

BOISE, Idaho - Boise State completed an impressive week Saturday afternoon when the Broncos defeated UC Irvine in four sets to win their own Boise State Invitational going undefeated at 3-0. The match was another hard fought contest that the Broncos won 25-16, 25-23, 25-27, 25-21 to extend their win streak to five matches as they improved to 6-4 on the year, 4-0 this week. Boise State was led by Alyssa Gammel and Liz Harden who recorded 20 and 17 kills, respectively, against the Anteaters. Harden was named tournament MVP while Gammel and Kersti Whitney made the all-tournament team.   

"This was a great week for our team, especially with the hard wins over San Jose State last night and today against UC Irvine," said coach Garus. "Irvine is a good team and for us to be pushed the way we were and the way we answer the challenge is only going to help us down the road. Liz (Harden) and Alyssa (Gammel) were big for us today. I was also excited about the play of Leah Stevens and Brittany (Reardon). Sarah Baugh and Jackie Pyles had some big runs serving for us that got us back into the second and third sets.  It was a good week for our program."

Boise State opened the match strong using a 9-2 run to turn a 4-4 tie into a 13-6 Bronco advantage. The Broncos then stretched their lead to 10 points at 19-9 as they gained control of the momentum. Boise State took the set by nine points with an impressive 25-16 win. The blue and orange hit a solid .419 percent and were led by Gammel who recorded six kills followed by Harden with four.

The second set was all UC Irvine early as the Anteaters slowly pulled away from the Broncos taking a six-point lead twice, the last came at 16-10. Down six, Boise State came alive storming back into the set with an 11-2 run to seize control and a 21-18 lead. The Broncos then held off a late UCI rally attempt to win the set 25-23. Fiona Jones led the Boise State comeback with six of the teams 11 points during the rally, she finished with a team-high seven kills. Freshman Sarah Baugh served the last seven points of the rally which turned the set Boise State's way.

The third set went back and forth with the lead fluctuating between one and three points most of the way. With UC Irvine up 16-14, Harden led a Boise State 4-0 run with three kills giving the Broncos an 18-16 advantage. The Anteaters countered taking a 24-20 lead. Down four, coach Garus inserted freshman Jackie Pyles to serve. It worked well as the Broncos came back once again to tie the score at 24 with four straight Pyles serves. Unfortunately for the home team, the rally came up short as UCI held off Boise State for a 27-25 set three victory.

Set four was another tightly contested period that saw momentum swing both ways. It was a one or two point set most of the way with the Anteaters holding the lead the majority of the time. The set was tied at 15 when Baugh came in to serve sparking a 3-0 run giving the Broncos the edge at 18-15. That was all Boise State needed as it held off UC Irvine's come back attempts winning the set 25-21, clinching a 3-1 match victory.

Boise State finished the match hitting .238 percent with 62 kills, 59 assists, three service aces, 93 digs and nine blocks. UC Irvine responded by hitting .160 percent with 49 kills, 45 assists, six aces, 79 digs and nine blocks. The Anteaters were led by all-tournament team honoree Aly Squires with 15 kills and Marisa Bubica with 10 and two blocks.

Gammel led Boise State with 20 kills, tying her career-high, two assists, one block and a career-high 25 digs. Harden followed with 17 kills and hit .279 percent. Brittany Reardon hit a team-high .375 with seven kills to go with a career best tying eight blocks. Fiona Jones added nine kills and 11 digs. Casey Rose and Baugh recorded 25 and 24 assists, respectively. Kersti Whitney had a career-high 30 digs to led the Boise State defensive effort.

Harden was named the MVP of the tournament after hitting a team-high .376 percent (52-11-109) with 52 kills, two assists, five digs and two blocks in the tournament. Gammel made the all-tournament team with 45 kills, two assists, three aces, 44 digs and five blocks. Whitney made the team for her defensive effort recording 65 digs for a 5.42 per set average.  

"We played extremely well as a team this week and we need to carry this momentum with us into the future," commented Garus. "I thought Liz (Harden) had a phenomenal tournament for us and I'm glad she was named MVP. I thought Alyssa and Kersti were solid for us as well."

Boise State will be back in action this week with four road matches on the slate beginning with a trip to play at Seattle University on Tuesday, followed by the Arizona Desert Classic in Tucson, Ariz., next Friday and Saturday featuring the Arizona Wildcats, American Eagles and UC Irvine Anteaters.

Boise State Invitational All-Tournament Team

MVP -  Liz Harden, Boise State
Alyssa Gammel - Boise State
Kersti Whitney - Boise State
Aly Squires - UC Irvine
Kristin Winkler - UC Irvine
Michaela Leonard - San Jose State
Mary Alice O'Reilly - San Jose State
Ana Mailoto - Southern Utah

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