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SF State: Drew Morris, Bailey Johnson star as Golden Gators women’s volleyball open up 2-0

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Drew Morris (left) and Olivia Tabron (right) made big impacts as SF State won its first two games of the season on August 24, 2018. (Courtesy: SF State / Brandon Davis)

For the second straight year, the San Francisco State women’s volleyball team is off to a 2-0 start to the season.

On Friday, the Golden Gators strolled to sweeps over Pacific Union (25-15, 25-15, 25-18) and Notre Dame de Namur (25-21, 25-15, 25-17) in the NorCal Volleyball Classic.

The Golden Gators started a bit slow, tied at 7-7 in the early goings with Pacific Union, before a Pioneers service error, followed by a kill from Drew Morris, put SF State up by two. A service ace by Breanna Dougherty pushed the advantage. The Golden Gators then rattled off six straight points.

Morris, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, led all players with 11 kills against Pacific Union in game one, with a career-high .370 hit rate. Dougherty, a 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter, set a career high with three service aces in the three sets.

In the second set, SF State ran out to a 9-2 lead before a Pioneer time out, but another Morris kill kept the momentum rolling in the Gators’ favor. Up 21-13, SF State fired off three straight kills, with Morris hammering home two and freshman Jessica Haynie adding one. Haynie had eight kills overall against Pacific Union, with a pair of solo blocks.

The final set saw service aces from Vanessa Ditz — who logged 18 digs in the three sets combined — and Haynie. Freshman Marlena Billings finished things off with a kill off a dish from Payton Jensen (35 assists) to complete the sweep.

Ditz’s first service ace of the afternoon made it a 7-4 Gator advantage, and a Haynie ace midway through the set made it 13-7. Freshman Billings closed out the contest with a kill off a dish from Jensen to complete the sweep.

SF State hit a dazzling .392 against the Pioneers, the seventh-highest percentage in program history.

Morris, who was third on the team in kills last season with 183, continued her personal assault in the second game of the day, against the Argonauts.

Morris racked up up 15 kills and 11 digs against Notre Dame de Namur for her sixth career double-double, but she had to share the spotlight with junior middle blocker Bailey Johnson, who had 14 kills and hit a blistering .609, the fifth-best hitting percentage in program history.

After a kill by Johnson put the Gators up 6-3 in the first set, Morris and Haynie tallied back-to-back kills to put SF State up 15-11. The Argonauts would make a late push to get within three, but an attack error gave the Gators set point, and Johnson dutifully put it away with a return-to-sender kill to the back corner for the win, and one of her 14 kills on the game.

Johnson continued to pour it on in the second set. With the Gators down 4-2, she notched back-to-back kills to get them even. Then, up 19-14, SF State ran off six of the next seven points, starting with a kill from Johnson and ending with a block by Johnson and Haynie.

The Gators came out to a 7-2 lead in the third set, but Notre Dame de Namur closed to within two before a pair of attack errors gave SF State some breathing room. Another Morris kill made it 14-8, and she would later add her 15th of the match to give the Gators set point.

Olivia Tabron — who tallied back-to-back points to win the second set of the first game — sent everyone home with her seventh kill of the contest for match point.

Other notables in the second game: Maura Donovan added 11 digs against Notre Dame de Namur, while Ditz added 17. Jensen dished out 42 assists and had nine digs, herself.

The Gators host their home opener tomorrow as Holy Names comes to The Swamp at Don Nasser Family Plaza. First serve is at 7 p.m.

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