'Dogs Battle Broncos in See-Saw Contest
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand posted her second-highest season tallies in kills (17), digs (15) and blocks (4).
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand posted her second-highest season tallies in kills (17), digs (15) and blocks (4).

Sept. 28, 2013

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By Geoff Thurner

FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State volleyball team (7-7, 1-1) wrapped up its conference-opening weekend with one of its top efforts of the season statistically in a tight five-set battle with Boise State (7-6, 2-2).

The `Dogs cruised to advantages in the first and fourth sets by 25-16 and 25-17 margins, but came up just short in the second, third and fifth sets by 26-24, 26-24 and 15-13 counts, and wrapped up the weekend with a 1-1 mark.

With its third +.300 mark of the year, Fresno State posted a team-season high in hitting (.301) and near bests in kills (70), assists (67), blocks (11) and digs (84).

"Today was frustrating," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "We out-hit them, out-dug them, basically tied them in blocks, and had more aces. Basically, we just had bad timing. We should have closed them out in set three but didn't do it. In set five we didn't side out as well as they did, so this is a painful loss. Coming in, we wanted to shut down their pins b/c of they have a complex offense, but weren't able to stop them at key times."

Boise State entered the weekend ranked second in the league in hitting with a .258 mark, but was held to .214, and its other team totals trailed Fresno State in kills (68), assists (63), aces (2) and digs (63), while the Broncos held a slight advantage in blocks (12-11).

Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild led Fresno State in kills (20) for the seventh time in 2013, and missed tying the team season high by one, while her 15 digs marked for her fifth double-double of the season and 33rd as a Bulldog.

Another senior outside hitter, Marissa Brand (.471, 17 kills), logged her first +.400 mark of 2013 and topped the team in hitting for the second time this year. Her kills tally was her second-highest of the campaign, and her 15 digs marked her fourth straight double-double and 32nd of her career.

"Tonight was a missed opportunity for us," Brand said. "Our fans got to see a lot of our strengths tonight. When we're clicking offensively and get teams out of system with our serving, we're a fun team to watch. However, we let them off at the end of the second and third sets - something that has gotten us in other matches this year. I was really proud of how our team battled back in the fifth set after getting down, and our players really showed the Bulldog spirit."

One shy of the team's season blocks high, senior middle blocker Maci Murdock logged her season high (8) and topped the team for the fifth time in '13. The Turlock, Calif., native also added her fifth +.400 mark (.429, 11 kills) of the year and her sixth double-digit kill tally.

Redshirt senior right side hitter Holly Franks added 18 kills - two off her season high - and her .283 hitting mark was her fourth-best of 2013. The Tollhouse, Calif., native added a team high in aces (3) for the fourth time on the campaign.

Junior setter Christina Lee topped the team in digs (19) and assists (57) to post her third straight double-double and sixth of the season. Her assists total tied her career high that ranked fourth-best in the MW earlier this week.

Freshman libero Maggie Eppright added 17 digs and added an ace, as did Brand.

For the Broncos, three players notched +10 kills - Alysa Gammel (16 kills, .182), Sarah Horton (11 kills, .140) and Brittany Reardon (10 kills, .222).

Other category leaders included Hannah Hubbard (21 digs), Reardon (4 blocks), Aly Duffin (4 blocks), Casey Rose (29 assists, 1 ace) and Sarah Baugh (1 ace).

In set 1, Franks logged a pair of aces in her seven-serve stretch that came to an end with Fresno State up, 9-4. The 'Dogs never let the Broncos score more than two points in a row in the set while it added another three straight points row behind her serving to go up 20-11 in its 25-16 victory. Murdock connected on kills on all five of her attempts, while Franks was also errorless with her four kills on nine attempts.

In set 2, Fresno State's longest run was a four-pointer that was ended by one of Wild's eight kills in the set and made it 10-7. Boise State answered with a four-point rally to go back up, 14-13, and neither team led by two points the rest of the way. With the 'Dogs up 23-21, the Broncos ended its 5-1 set-ending streak with three kills to win, 26-24.

In set 3, the 'Dogs used four- and three-point runs early to stake leads of 4-1 and 14-11. The Broncos stayed within three points the rest of the way, then used a 5-0 run to come back and win the set, 26-24, on four kills and a block.

In set 4, Jaimee-Lee Morrow served Fresno State out to a 9-0 lead. The Broncos eventually went on a five-point spurt to pull back within, 17-12, but another three-point Fresno State run behind serving by Morrow and Eppright led to 20-13 and 24-17 advantages in the match-tying, 25-17 set.

In set 5, the two teams tied five times through 7-7, but the Broncos utilized a 5-2 run with four kills and a block to lead, 12-9. A Bronco kill and block pushed its lead to 14-10. BSU then withstood three straight Bulldogs kills, to pull out the final set, 15-13, on a kill by Reardon.

Two nights before, Fresno State opened its second year of Mountain West action with a 3-1 victory over Utah State who had beaten Boise State twice last week by 3-0 and 3-1 scores. A month ago, the Aggies were tabbed third in the preseason MW coaches poll, followed by the 'Dogs (sixth) and Broncos (seventh).

Looking ahead, Fresno State makes one of its most challenging road trips of the year when it plays at San Diego State (6-6, 1-1) and UNLV (7-5, 2-0) next Thursday and Saturday, October 3-5. Those squads were tabbed first and third, respectively, in the MW preseason coaches poll.

"This conference is always tough," Netherby-Sewell said, "and Boise is one of those teams that is either hot or cold. Tonight they were hot when it mattered, and part of it might have been our serving at those points. This match is only the second of the conference season - we will build off it and move forward."



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