Aug. 24, 2012 By Theresa Kurtz
By Theresa Kurtz
EL PASO, Texas - The Fresno State volleyball team opened the 2012 season with a win over UTEP in its first game of the El Paso Sports Commission Invite. The Bulldogs defeated the Miners 3-2 (17-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-20 and 15-11) after forcing a deciding fifth set.
"UTEP was a lot tougher than we expected and a very physical team," said head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell. "We needed a little bit of time to get into our rhythm, but when we do, we look like a very good team. We have a ton of offense and great potential to be a great team this year."
The Bulldogs bounced back from being down 1-0 and 2-1 against tournament host UTEP.
"It was a great win because we were stable and mentally tough on the big points," added Netherby-Sewell. "That's what got us through the match. When the pressure was on we had big hitters come up with big plays."
All-conference selection Marissa Brand returned to the court after suffering a season ending injury a year ago. The redshirt junior was one dig shy of recording a double-double. Brand recorded nine digs and 21 kills, which is two short of her career-high of 23 kills in a match.
"I felt confident going into the match," said Brand. "We had a good game plan set. We knew as hitters we had to hit our lines and come off our blocks. It felt good to be back out there and playing with my teammates again."
The `Dogs never quit attitude helped them earn their first win of the season. Fresno State fell to UTEP in the opening set 25-17. Senior Cecilia Agraz and junior Korrin Wild combined for four aces in the opening set, Wild had three and Agraz one.
Freshman Zana Bowens made her first career start in a Bulldog uniform. She recorded two aces and five digs in her debut match.
The `Dogs came out fired up in the second set taking an early lead. Behind the serving of libero Christina Lee, the Bulldogs scored four unanswered points to take a 5-1 lead. Lee ended the match with a team-high 13 digs. The Bulldogs offense continued with back-to-back aces from Wild.
The Miners rallied late in the set, but the Bulldogs held off UTEP ending its rally with a side out and winning the second set 25-23. Brand and Megan Callahan combined for 11 kills in the second set.
The third set was evenly matched before UTEP took a seven-point lead. Callahan ended the Miner's 7-0 run with a kill as the `Dogs trailed 14-8 in the set. UTEP took the third set 25-19. Callahan recorded 15 kills in the first match of the year.
Fresno State opened the fourth set with high intensity and aggressive attacking. With a 4-1 run, the Bulldogs took the lead and momentum. The Miners began rallying back, but the Bulldogs ended the fourth set with a 6-1 run winning 25-20 forcing a fifth and final set.
The deciding fifth set was all Fresno State. The `Dogs came out even more fired up than the previous set. The offense took a 7-3 lead and an assisted block from Wild and Maci Murdock, who led the team with 10 blocks total, gave the `Dogs a 3-point lead halfway through the fifth set. Wild finished the night with 12 kills, five aces and seven digs.
"The fifth set there is a ton of pressure, especially when you are playing a good team at home," said Netherby-Sewell. "We had all guns blazing. I am proud of our stability and ability to do the basic things throughout that set."
The Bulldogs finished the final set with a 5-1 run winning the set 15-11. The Fighting Spirit Award went to the entire team in the first match of 2012.
"I am really proud of this team" Netherby-Sewell said. "They have a lot of chemistry and it was definitely a team effort tonight."
The `Dogs continue tournament play against Arizona State and Idaho State on Saturday.
"Discover Fresno State Volleyball!"-- Catch the action on 790 ESPN The Deuce, which is the flagship radio station for Bulldog Volleyball. Remember to vote every day for Fresno State at www.ESPN.com/CollegeColorsDay and wear your Bulldog red on Aug. 31 for College Colors Day.
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|