The 1,000th kill of Sabryn Roberts’ career wasn’t accompanied by the distinctive smack of a hard-hit ball bouncing off the hardwood.
Instead, this was a victory of mind over might.
Knowing the Washington defense was anticipating a powerful swing, Roberts dropped a tip just over the Huskies’ block for her first kill of the match and the 1,000th of her Boise State volleyball career.
The senior outside hitter from Torrance, California, becomes just the 15th Bronco in program history to reach the milestone.
“She’s always been a really dynamic hitter and loves to hit the ball hard,” Boise State coach Shawn Garus said. “But when the block starts keying on you, you have to have more than one shot, and she showed that tonight.
“She can go inside, outside, high hands, off speed, hit from the left or right, and that versatility helps her even when the other team’s keying on her.”
Roberts finished with a match-high 18 kills, but the Broncos couldn’t muster the upset in a 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 loss to No. 13 Washington on Thursday night in Bronco Gym.
It was the opening match of the Boise State Classic, which also includes Cal State Northridge, Portland and Sacramento State. The Broncos (6-2) play twice on Friday, first taking on CSU Northridge at 2:30 p.m. and then Portland at 7:30 p.m.
They close out the tournament against Sacramento State at noon Saturday.
“Overall, I just liked the way my team fought,” Garus said. “We were the underdog going into the match, but I think we showed we have the ability to play at a high level. We just have to get more consistent.”
At 5-foot-9, Roberts is on the short side for a Division I outside hitter, and she has learned over the course of her Boise State career that every hit can’t be a hard-driven ball.
That savvy has made her an even more effective hitter.
“I think the defense has to respect the pace that she hits, so when they get dug in for the hard-driven ball, it sets up her off-speed game,” Garus said. “She’s smart enough to recognize those situations.”
After Thursday’s match, Roberts said she would have happily traded the career milestone for a team victory.
“I think it will probably dawn on me a little later, but I’m just focused on winning,” Roberts said. “The stats don’t really mean anything to me. I really just want my team to play better, to win games, and I want another conference championship and to make it to the NCAAs.”
Boise State got off to a program-record 6-0 start in 2018 but has since lost its last two matches. The Boise State Classic is the Broncos’ final tune-up before they begin Mountain West play Sept. 20 at UNLV.
Roberts and transfer Morgan Hughes are the only seniors on the roster, and the Broncos started three freshmen against the Huskies in setter Danielle Boss, libero Jessie Brigham and middle blocker Jessica Donahue.
“The most important thing for us is to worry about our side of the net,” Roberts said. “... We need to worry about what we can control and just playing every match like we’re playing a championship match.”