Sept. 13, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State volleyball team treated its fans to another dramatic win vs. returning NCAA qualifier Belmont Friday night in the opener of the Fresno State Classic Presented by Deli Delicious.
The `Dogs (3-4) came back from an 0-2 deficit vs. the Bruins (3-7) in its fourth five-set match at home this season in as many contests. The returning Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champions won the first two sets by 25-21 counts, while Fresno State roared back to take the final three sets, 25-22, 25-22, 15-10.
"We were nervous coming out and it showed," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "We know how good we should be but just haven't played at the level very often this season. Our passing was more stable tonight, and Christina (Lee) did an amazing job. To change positions and train as a libero from two years and then come back to setter is not easy, but she looked really relaxed, and kept our hitters confident and in rhythm. She really helped us a lot tonight when we really needed it. Our seniors also led us really well at the end once they settled in."
At setter, Bulldog junior Christina Lee made her first start at the position in two years and paced the team with a career-high 57 assists. The San Francisco, Calif., native also logged her third career double-double and first of the season with her 13 digs, and added her second ace of the campaign.
"The team gave me a lot of confidence this week at practice and believed in me," Lee said, "and that really helped. I tried to stay calm tonight and just do my best. (After being down 2-0), we knew we needed to keep strong mentally and not give up and fight the whole way. It was so much fun today (being at setter). The hitters played so confidently - even if they made a mistake they came right back ready to go."
Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild topped the team in kills (19) with a total two shy of her earlier team season high, while her 21 digs was the best on the squad this year by a non-libero.
Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock led the team in hitting (.375, 11 kills) with her fourth +.300 hitting and double-digit kill efforts of the season. The Turlock, Calif., native product also led the team in blocks for the fourth time this year, and her tally (6) was one shy of her team season high.
The team added a third hitter with +10 kills thanks to senior right side Holly Franks (14 kills, 13 digs) as she claimed her third double-double of '13.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Molly Pearson rounded out the team's offense with a career high in kills (7) and hitting (.700) and no errors among her 10 attempts.
In the back row, freshman libero Maggie Eppright made her second straight start, and her 15 digs was a career high by one.
The San Luis Obispo native also tied her career high in aces (2) to lead the team for the first time in her career.
A fifth Bulldog racked up +10 digs courtesy of senior outside hitter Marissa Brand's season high (10).
For Belmont, three hitters tallied +15 kills - Scarlet Gable (18, .260), Allison McCoy (17, .571) and Jessica Vestal (17, .062).
Other Bruin category leaders included Jamie Lundstrom (27 digs, 1 ace), McCoy (7 blocks), Hannah Miranda (53 assists, 1 ace) and Ashley Ferguson (3).
In the team comparisons, the `Dogs hit .333 and .350 in the fourth and fifth sets to end with a .182 match hitting mark - just shy of Belmont's .212 overall mark.
Fresno State held advantages in kills (64-63), assists (60-58) and digs (81-70); the teams tied in aces (3-3); and Belmont owned a 13-7 edge in blocks.
In the first set, Belmont staked its biggest lead of the set at 6-2, but a kill by Zana Bowens and two more kills by Wild drew Fresno State within, 6-5. The `Dogs stayed within 1-3 points until another four-point Bruin lead was punctuated by a Vestal kill at 20-16 - one of her seven in the set. A Franks kill and block by Brand and Murdock tightened it to 20-18 and forced a Bruin timeout. Belmont however ended the 25-21 set on a 5-3 run, with Wild getting her fifth kill of the set for Fresno State's last point.
The Bulldogs held the upper hand early in set two with a 7-4 lead thanks to three kills by Franks. The Bruins tied the set, 10-10, and a block by Franks and two more kills fueled another four-point lead at 14-10. After Fresno State staked a 17-15 lead on a Brand kill, Belmont used a pair of four-point runs to go up 19-17 and 23-19, en route to the 25-21 victory.
In the third set, the `Dogs jumped out to a 9-3 lead with two more of Bowens' kills starting the run. The two teams then traded one- and two-point stretches as Fresno State pushed its lead to 17-10 on a Vestal attack error. Belmont answered with six straight points - its biggest rally of the match - to pull within 17-16. However, Murdock slowed the visitors with a kill and her fourth block of the set to help give Fresno State a 20-18 lead and forced Belmont's second timeout. Kills by Wild and Bowens followed, and a Fresno State timeout at 24-22 was followed by a set-deciding service error by Miranda.
In the fourth set, the `Dogs again won the race to the media timeout with a 15-12 advantage with three of Murdock's kills part of the team's first 10 points. After holding a lead of 2-3 points through 22-19, Eppright's second ace of the match forced a timeout at 23-19. Belmont scored two straight points, but a pair of kills by Molly Pearson gave the home team the 25-22 decision.
Early in the fifth set, a pair of Bruin service errors and a Bowens solo block helping knot the score, 5-5. Murdock added two straight kills to push Fresno State ahead for the first time, 7-6, and a Bulldog kill made it 8-6 at the halfway point timeout. A marathon back and forth point was ended by Wild's cross-court roll shot kill at 10-7 and followed by a Belmont timeout. Three Bruin hitting errors, and kills by Murdock and Pearson gave Fresno State its final points of the match.
In the evening finale, No. 20 Oregon (5-3) beat Cal State Bakersfield (5-3) by a 25-23, 25-22, 25-18 score.
Looking ahead, final-day tourney action features two more Fresno State matches Saturday vs. Bakersfield at noon and No. 20 Oregon at 7:30 p.m.
No. 20 Oregon will face Belmont at 10 a.m., and CSUB and Belmont will meet at 5 p.m.
More tournament information is available at the http://bit.ly/17S3EfD URL address, and a live videostream of the evening matches will be available at http://bit.ly/MWNLive and featuring announcers Stephen Trembley and Bree Cooksey.
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