Volleyball Drops Tough Five-Game Decision to Notre Dame
Sept. 10, 2004
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The Fresno State volleyball team dropped a tough five-game decision to No. 26 Notre Dame in the opening match of the Cal Poly-Best Western Royal Oak Invitational late this afternoon.
Playing a team for nearly three hours for the second straight match of the year, the Bulldogs nearly pulled off the upset over the Fighting Irish as they lost 21-30, 30-27, 20-30, 33-31 and 12-15.
Fresno State (3-2) was led by senior Honorable Mention All-America outside hitter Kristen Fenton, who had a match-high 19 kills despite being ganged up on by Notre Dame (2-3).
Sophomore outside hitter Tuli Peters added 10 kills while freshman outside hitter Christianna Reneau collected her third straight double-double with 16 kills and a team-high 20 digs.
Freshman setter Ilima Sam Fong also had a double-double as she dished out 47 assists and had 12 digs. With five players in double-figure kills, Notre Dame was led by Lauren Kelbley, who had 17 kills and hit .196 with two blocks.
"I thought we did an excellent job against Notre Dame, which is ranked 26th in the current poll," head coach Lindy Vivas said. "There is no doubt in my mind that if we had been at full strength we would have won. We knew walking into the tournament we were going to use several different line ups. It took us a little while to get into the flow of the match as well as establish a steady rhythm. Once we did do that, we were able to settle down.
"At one point we had four freshmen on the floor and I thought they did an excellent job for us," Vivas continued. "Ilima did a very nice job coming in and running the offense. Christianna had another excellent offensive match. Amanda (Magalei), who we just switched from an outside hitter to a middle, played five solid games.
"This is the second straight match in which we played a taller and more experience squad for nearly three hours," Vivas added. "What we want is to put ourselves in a position to win and I think we've done that because the wins will come. It was disappointing that this match got away from us but overall this will prove beneficial down the road as we increase our maturity and experience level."
In game one Fresno State looked good getting out of the gate as it built a 7-4 lead over the Fighting Irish. However, Notre Dame erased the three point lead courtesy of Bulldog hitting errors and then tied the game at eight on a service ace. UND then strung together five straight kills to jump out to a 13-8 lead. Taking command at that point, Notre Dame would not allow Fresno State to get any closer than seven points as the Fighting Irish held 27-17 and 28-21 leads in the late half before winning 30-21. The Bulldogs were held below .100 for the first time on the season as they hit .065. Notre Dame hit .211 and outdug Fresno State, 22-13.
In game two the `Dogs took a more aggressive approach in the second game. Hitting .310, Fresno State was more balanced in its attack as Fenton and Reneau led the way with six and five kills, respectively. Magalei played a pivotal role and chipped in four kills as Sam Fong directed the offense with 12 assists. Notre Dame, which hit .314, also used a more balanced attack but the `Dogs won the critical points when it mattered. Fresno State took an 8-4 lead before UND called a time out. Jumping out to a 16-12 lead, Fresno State increased its lead to 21-16 before the Fighting Irish called their second and final timeout. Notre Dame utilized its break effectively as it went on a 7-1 run to tie the game at 22. With the game tied at 24, Fresno State closed out the game with a 6-3 run as Fenton recorded a pair of kills and combined for a block with junior middle blocker Lauren Howell for the 30-27 win.
In the third set Fresno State looked like it was building momentum after capturing game two but once the game was tied six different times (9, 11, 16, 17, 18 and 19) Notre Dame dominated as it closed out with an 11-1 run for a 30-20 win. Winning the blocking battle (5-0), Notre Dame hit .278 and Fresno State could not find any rhythm as it hit -.022.
Like all the previous games, Fresno State led early before allowing Notre Dame back into the game. Starting out game four with at an 8-8 tie, six more ties would follow. Fresno State took a 20-18 lead but Notre Dame responded with a 5-3 run to tie the game at 23. A Reneau kill and a UND hitting error gave the Bulldogs a 25-23 lead as both teams exhausted their two timeouts. Chipping away, Notre Dame went on a 4-2 run to tie the game at 27. Exchanging ties at 28, 29 and 30, Fresno State trailed 30-31 before a Reneau kill tied it at 31. A Magalei and Reneau block and a Peters kill sealed the final two points for a 33-31 win.
With the game tied four different times, Notre Dame took an 8-6 lead when the teams switched sides in the final set. Fresno State tied the game at 8-8 but fell behind at 10-12 when it called a timeout. The Bulldogs got within one at 12-13 on a Reneau kill. Notre Dame closed out the game and match with a kill and block solo for the 15-12 win.
Fresno State closes out tournament play tomorrow with a 9:00 a.m. match against host Cal Poly and a 4:30 p.m. match versus Sacramento State.