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Western Washington Athletics | October 8, 2013

Steady climb

 BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Winning 11 of its first 12 matches, 10 of them sweeps, Western Washington moved to No. 7 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association Top-25 Poll.

The Vikings, riding a four-match winning streak, moved up two spots for the fourth consecutive week. The defending GNAC champions are 4-0 in league play, with Alaska Anchorage at 6-0.

Complete AVCA rankings

The 11-1 start is WWU's best since 2008 when it began 13-0. The Vikings opened 24-1 in 2003, and 12-1 in both 1996 and 1980.

Last week, WWU made its first home appearances, sweeping Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington, after opening the season with 10 road matches. Its only loss has been to then No.24 Sonoma State (now No.12).

WWU middle blocker Emily Boerger was named GNAC defensive player of the week. She had nine blocks in the two victories as the Vikings held the opposition to a hitting percentage of .022. Boerger also had 19 kills and hit for a .483 percentage.

The Vikings rank third nationally in attack percentage at .306 with middle blocker Kayla Erickson and Boerger being 1-2 in the country individually for the second consecutive week at .461 and .443, respectively. Both are on pace to break the GNAC single-season record of .425 set in 2012 by Krissi Kemper of Western Oregon.

Erickson currently tops school career leaders in attack percentage at .375.

WWU libero Samantha Hutchinson is second nationally in digs per set (7.06), and setter Taylor Dillard is eighth in assists per set (11.39). Last year, Hutchinson finished No.5 in the country, averaging 6.41.

Hutchinson, who was a second-team AVCA All-American last fall, moved into fourth place among WWU's career dig leaders with 1,331. She trails Courtney Schneider (2,695, 2004-07), Allison Gotz (1,708, 2007-10) and Nicola Parker (1,435, 2000-03), all of whom were first-team All-Americans. Hutchinson already has been a GNAC Defensive POW twice this season.

WWU ranks No.9 nationally in average kills per set (14.39) and No.11 in assists per set (13.29).

WWU, directed by seven-time GNAC Coach of the Year Diane Flick (14th year, 284-75), has four players averaging more than two kills per set. They are Erickson 3.68, opposite-side hitter Jennica McPherson 2.82, Boerger 2.58, and outside hitter Kelsey Moore 2.66. Rachel Roederis nearly on that pace at 1.92.

McPherson also is averaging 2.63 digs and has served a team-leading 19 aces. Boerger tops WWU in blocks, averaging 1.16 and Erickson is second at 1.08.