Big Sky Record: 8-8
Place in Conference:
Lost in Quarterfinals
The 2017 volleyball season was one filled with ups and downs.
The Bengals won three of their first five matches of the season before falling 3-0 to Texas-Arlington, the first of 11 consecutive losses where ISU took on some of the nation’s best teams.
Among those teams was Minnesota, marking the first and only time ISU has played the number one team in the country at the time of the match.
Idaho State also played Oregon State, Colorado State and Michigan during the slide, all of whom made the NCAA tournament.
The Bengals lost their first three conference games of the season, but all three were against the conference’s top three teams – Sacramento State, Northern Arizona and Portland State.
“… when you’re on a losing streak, you have to have a mentality that we’re going to get over the hump and restart [things,]” said sophomore Haylie Keck.
That’s exactly what ISU did.
Following the 11-match slide, the Bengals won eight-of-nine, placing them right in the thick of things in a competitive Big Sky Conference.
But then, Idaho State fell back into a rut and lost five straight to end the year.
“I think those streaks show how good our conference is,” said sophomore Brooke Pehrson. “There wasn’t really one team where you could say it was an ‘easy game.’”
The Bengals were eliminated in the first-round of the Big Sky Conference tournament by Idaho, ending what head coach Rick Reynolds called a fickle year.
“I thought there were times this year where non-volleyball, emotionally-based things had an impact on what we were trying to accomplish,” Reynolds said.
Throughout the year, the Bengals were unable to pick up crucial digs that would have kept rallies alive and turned into ISU points. Instead, the rally ended when the dig was missed.
“There were several matches where we held our opponents below a two serve-receive rating and still not win the match,” Reynolds said. “Those are tough because your servers, the first line of offense are doing their job. You have to pick up the dig, you have to pick up those balls to create the offense we want.”
The players say they are not satisfied with the 8-8 conference record.
“We all expect it to be higher,” said junior Abby Garrity. “We all feel like we have really good talent on the team and I think it can be hard to realize that we didn’t do as well as we wanted to.”
Idaho State will lose seniors Marissa Dance, Chloe Hirst and Makayla Lundin. Hirst was a three-year starter and received Second Team All-Conference honors.
Idaho State announced three new freshmen signings for the 2018 season in Reagan Steiner, Danielle Devlin and Duquesne Moratzka last week.
According to the Idaho Statesman Mahala Bradburn from Kuna, also committed to Idaho State. The Statesman reported on Bradburn’s commitment last April, but ISU Sports Information was unable to confirm the signing.
“I think they fill the needs we have in the gym,” Reynolds said. “…Our setter position is going to be wide open.”
The Idaho Crush, a club volleyball team located in Nampa stated in early November that it was, “excited for Kuna and Crush Libero Mahala Bradburn and Idaho State volleyball.”
The tweet was retweeted by the ISU volleyball account.
“All three of them are super physical,” said freshman Taylor Meeks. “But I think all three of them can help us in any position they are asked to be in.”