Bulldogs Roll Over Rebels in Vegas, 3-0
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand logged her second-highest hitting mark of 2013 (.444) and her fifth +.300 total of 2013.
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand logged her second-highest hitting mark of 2013 (.444) and her fifth +.300 total of 2013.

Oct. 5, 2013

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By Geoff Thurner

LAS VEGAS - Wrapping up its first conference road trip, the Fresno State volleyball team (8-8, 2-2) flexed its offensive muscle with a 3-0 win over UNLV (8-6, 3-1) Saturday night at Cox Pavilion.

The `Dogs connected on a season-high .356 hitting mark in its 25-18, 25-15, 25-17 victory and fourth sweep of the campaign.

That hitting total was .055 better than its previous and its fourth +.300 total the last three weekends (and of the season).

The Rebels were held to a .083 hitting mark - the third-lowest by a Bulldog foe this season.

Fresno State also owned sizable team comparison edges in kills (43-29), assists (40-27), aces (3-1), digs (49-34) and blocks (8-2), and ended a three-match losing streak to the Rebels the last two seasons.

"We have been working on making better choices offensively," Netherby-Sewell said, "and that work paid off tonight. We have a lot of great hitters, so we simplified things, and released them to go out and cut loose - and they did. We passed really well and were aggressive with our serving to their seams."

The Bulldog offense featured four players with +.300 totals - senior outside hitters Marissa Brand (.444, 14 kills) and Korrin Wild (.333, 12), and junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (.636, 7) and middle blocker Katie Pearson (.333, 4 kills).

Relying on a 6-2 offense for an entire match for the first time in 2013, the balanced `Dog offense was smoothly run by junior setter Christina Lee and freshman setter Brooke Legaux. In her most extensive action as a collegian, Legaux's 14 assists doubled her previous season high, and Lee posted 22 in her 10th straight start.

"It was fun to watch Korrin and Marisssa swing away with confidence," Netherby-Sewell said. "Zana (Bowens) played well at the right side with Holly (Franks), and Katie did some good things for us as well - it was a total team effort. Our 6-2 worked pretty well - Brooke is finally healthy and ran a pretty good game, especially for her second collegiate match."

Wild also led the squad in aces (2) for the sixth time this year, while Brand's 16 points was her three-set season high and topped the squad for the second time in `13. Freshman libero Maggie Eppright topped the squad in digs (16) for the eighth time the last 11 matches and posted a three-set season high.

In her first start of the year, Katie Pearson tied Murdock for the team high in blocks (4), and the duo led the team in blocks for the first and seventh matches in 2013, respectively.

UNLV outside hitter Sekola Falemaka - the conference leader in aces and its second- and fourth-ranked individual in points and kills - led the Rebels in kills (8, .000), blocks (2) and points (9).

Other Rebel category leaders included Stephanie Thelen (24 assists), Allison Davies (11 digs, 1 ace) and Kaitlin Winters (.200, 2 blocks).

Saturday's win over the previously conference unbeaten Rebels prompted extra excitement for the `Dogs who had fallen to Boise State (3-2) and San Diego State (3-1) the previous two matches.

"Those were tough losses, so Coach had us meet and help develop the game plan," Brand said. "Tonight was so fun, because every single player made key contributions. We have been implanting new lineups in practice, and we will continue to work on fine-tuning things. Coming in, we focused mostly on the things we needed to fix, and not as much on UNLV besides some basic tendencies. We have so much experience, and this team knows what it takes to win. We just needed to take a step back and play the game like it's supposed to be - fun and loose."

In set 1, FS sported an early four-point lead at 8-4 after a pair of Wild kills, then a five-point edge at 12-7 after two Brand kills. UNLV answered with a 6-1 run to tie the set, 13-13, after Falemaka's pair of blocks and kills. The Bulldogs, however, ended the set on an 8-2 run after a block by Brand two more of her seven kills in the set, and another kill by Murdock and Wild.

In set 2, early 4-0 and 3-0 spurts gave FS a 9-4 lead after a Brand ace and Wild kill. Another four-point run raised the `Dogs' lead to 15-8 after a Murdock kill and block. A Lee and Pearson block forced UNLV to take its first timeout at 19-10. The Rebels came back with a 3-1 run on two kills by Westman and another Faelmaka, while Brand landed her fourth kill of the set on six attempts (and no errors) at 20-11. Wild added her fourth and fifth kills of the set to up Fresno State's lead to 22-13. Moments later, Murdock and Franks ended the 25-15 set with kills.

In set 3, a pair of early kills by Katie Pearson gave Fresno State a three-point run that ended at 7-3, and Bowens added a kill and block for a 9-4 Bulldog lead. After a three-point UNLV stretch narrowed the score to 17-13, a 4-1 Bulldog response pushed its lead to 21-14 on kills by Wild and Murdock and two Rebel attack errors. Fresno State soon ended the match, 25-17, after a pair of blocks by Pearson, Franks and Brand.

Looking ahead, Fresno State returns home to take on San Jose State (3-11, 0-4) and Nevada (2-14, 0-4), Friday-Saturday, October 11-12, with both matches starting at 7 p.m.

Friday's match is an `Alumni Celebration Night' and Saturday's ticket promotion is part of the `Step Up For Down Syndome' event.



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