Sep 7, 2013
By Geoff Thurner
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Fresno State volleyball team fought hard against its second returning NCAA Tournament Regional semifinalist to cap action in the Portland Nike Invitational Saturday evening at the Chiles Center.
The Bulldogs (2-4) ultimately came up short to the preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State (5-1) by a 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-11 score.
For Fresno State, senior right side hitter Holly Franks landed a new school record in aces (7), and improved upon the prior best of six by Lisa Gera (2007) and Christy Burnett (2002) from five- and four-set matches, respectively.
The Tollhouse, Calif., native also led the team in hitting (.333) for the second time this season , and stood second in kills (12) and digs (11) with her second double-double of the season.
One kill ahead, senior outside hitter Korrin Wild paced the squad in kills (13) for the fourth time in five matches, and added two aces and six digs.
In her first college start, freshman libero Maggie Eppright led the team in digs (14) for the first time this season, and improved upon her previous career high (8) that she tied in a set of action Saturday morning.
Five Bulldogs registered single blocks, and junior setter Cori Ehmen led the assists column (36).
Team-wise, the squad logged 10 aces for a new season best and held a 10-6 advantage. The Shockers held other edges in kills (44-43), assists (41-40), hitting (.299-.145), blocks (10-3) and digs (55-44).
Outside hitter Sam Sanders was the lone Wichita State player with double-digit kills (13, .545), and Elizabeth Field (8 kills, .533) also topped .500. Other category leaders included setter Chelsey Feeking (36 assists, 8 assists) and libero Alyssa Carney (18 digs, 3 aces).
In the first set, junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow served a six-point run that put the `Dogs up 8-2, and included the team's first ace of the night. A pair of kills from junior middle blocker Maci Murdock helped Fresno State extend its lead to 12-5 on a four-point run behind Wild's serving, but the Shockers battled back with a 12-2 run of their own to go up, 17-14. The `Dogs, however, refused to yield and ended the set with 9-2 streak that included another of Morrow's season-high two aces, and three by Franks in the 25-19 stanza. The `Dog back-row defense helped the team hold the Shockers to .000 hitting for the set with their five kills and five errors on 24 attempts.
In the second set, the Shockers bounced back to hit .433 as a team and limited the `Dogs to a set-high run of two points on three occasions. Wichita's biggest scoring run was a 10-4 streak mid-set that pushed its lead to 18-9. Five of Fresno State's points came courtesy of Franks via four kills and another ace.
In the third set, the `Dog shadowed the Shockers by 1-3 points until a Franks ace finally tied the score, 15-15. The teams traded points through five more ties, and another Franks ace retied it again, 23-23. However, a pair of kills by the Shockers' Sanders ended the 25-23 stanza. The Bulldogs posted their best hitting mark of the match (.297) thanks to nine kills by Wild - a team season high for a set in '13.
After a 5-5 tie in the fourth set, Wichita State went on a five-point run to go up, 10-5. After a disputed call led to an eight-minute referee-coach conference, Wichita State was awarded a point for a 13-6 lead on a Fresno State out-of-rotation call. The Shockers used another six-point run to jump ahead, 22-9, and later ended the match, 25-11.
Earlier in the weekend, the `Dogs beat UP, 3-0, and lost to West Coast Conference favorite and No. 25 BYU, 3-0.
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs return home to host the Bulldog Classic Presented by Deli Delicious, next Friday-Saturday, September 13-14.
The tournament welcomes a pair of 2012 NCAA Tournament returnees - national runner-up Oregon and Belmont - and CSU Bakersfield to the two-day, six-match tournament at the Save Mart Center.
Tickets are available at www.GoBulldogs.com, and fans can watch action live online at the www.TheMWC.com website.
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