HOUSTON, Texas - The Fresno State volleyball team (1-1) enjoyed its first win of the season with a 3-2 decision over UC Davis (0-2) Saturday afternoon in the Adidas Rice Invitational.
The `Dogs rebounded from a 25-19 first-set loss to take the second and third sets by 25-21 and 28-26 scores. UC Davis bounced back to claim the fourth set, 25-22, but the `Dogs used an early 5-0 lead in the fifth set to win the clincher, 15-11.
"I was happy with how we fought hard to win," head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "We played better than yesterday against an athletic team. In the third set, we especially had to battle it out to win, but our players stood tough. Even though we have a lot of inexperienced players, they played like they were experienced in the fifth set when it mattered the most."
In the final team comparisons, the `Dogs held edges in hitting (.194-.183), digs (87-82) and fewest service errors (11-18), and UC Davis owned advantages in kills (59-58), aces (10-6) and blocks (10-7)
Individually, three Bulldogs ended in double digits in kills - junior outside hitter Zana Bowens (15, .244), freshman outside hitter Carly Scarbrough (15) and senior middle blocker Maci Murdock (12, .296).
Bowens added her third career double-double with her team-leading 20 digs.
Defensively, senior defensive specialist Christina Lee tied for the team lead in digs (20) and aces (2). Sophomore Maggie Eppright added 18 digs and an ace, and redshirt freshman outside hitter Haylee Roberts topped the team in blocks (5).
"Zana had a huge impact offensively and defensively," Netherby-Sewell said. "She passed and dug well and served tough. We need players to play like that. Christina made an impact which is not easy in her position. She dug a lot of balls and controlled them pretty well. She passed well and had no receiving errors so that really helped us."
In her first start of the year, junior middle blocker Molly Pearson tied for the team lead in aces (2), and her four blocks was one shy of the team lead. Her seven kills and 17 attempts also stood as career highs as did her pair of aces.
Junior setter Jelena Jovanovic ended with 43 assists, and posted her second straight double-double thanks to her 16 digs.
"We moved Molly back to the middle and she stepped up and played like we've seen her play the last few weeks," Netherby-Sewell said. "We really needed her, and she blocked dependably and did whatever we needed."
Saturday's outcome raised Fresno State's all-time edge in the series that dates back to 1972 to 10-6, and evened Netherby-Sewell's record to 2-2 against the Aggies. Fresno State also won their last meeting in 2012 (3-0), while UC Davis won in straight sets in 2008 and '10.
Earlier in the tourney, the `Dogs were edged by Louisiana-Lafayette Friday night, 3-1, while ULL won in five sets vs. Rice Saturday morning.
"We have a lot to work on, but we're getting better each match," Netherby-Sewell said. "We'll keep building from here and get important experience some tough teams."
Looking ahead, the `Dogs cap tourney action on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 5:30 p.m. against tourney host Rice (2-0) at 5:30 p.m. PT.
Free live stats and an online video broadcast is available for purchase via the www.RiceOwls.com website.
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