Oct. 17, 2013
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. - En route to a 3-2 win over New Mexico, the Fresno State volleyball team staked dramatic fourth- and fifth-set wins for the third time this season Thursday night at the Save Mart Center.
After the 'Dogs won the first set, 25-20, the Lobos answered with 25-19 and 25-22 advantages in the second and third sets. However, the 'Dogs hung tough and ended the fourth set with a 3-0 run to win, 25-23; then springboarded off a 9-0 fifth-set start to a 15-6 decision in the finale.
"New Mexico is a very good team," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said, "so this win was really important, especially with how we came back. We learned some tough lessons early in the season, and that helped us hang in there late. I told our players to just go for it, and we are too talented to be stressed out and go out and enjoy it. They really got fired up when it mattered."
Thursday's decision moved the Bulldogs (11-8, 5-2) into a tie for second place in the MW with UNLV and ahead of UNM (14-4, 5-3), while Colorado State (7-0) topped the standings two matches ahead.
In Thursday's team comparisons, the 'Dogs sported edges in hitting (.256-.202), kills (69-61), assists (62-56), aces (3-2), and blocks (14-11), while the Lobos - the conference leader in digs - held a slim lead in the category (69-68).
"UNM blocks really well and is tough defensively," Neterby-Sewell said, "but our serving wasn't on for much of the way, and we let them run their offense too comfortably. Once we started to be more aggressive in our serving, then momentum shifted."
Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild posted arguably her most complete effort of the season. Her season-high 23.5 points came off 20 kills (one shy of her season high), a season-high five blocks and one ace.
The returning All-MW pick from Kingsburg, Calif., also hit .273, and added 14 digs for her sixth double-double of the season and 33rd career-wise. At the service line, she served the last eight points of the team's 9-0 fifth-set start, including her 122nd career ace (seventh-most all-time for Fresno State).
The balanced offense featured four Bulldog hitters with +10 kills for the third time this season, thanks to senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (19), junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (12) and senior right side hitter Holly Franks (10).
Brand was two kills shy of her kills season high (21) and claimed eight digs, while Murdock led the team in hitting (.632) for the ninth time in 2013. The Turlock, Calif., native Murdock also was error-less among her 19 attack attempts for the third straight match after she won MW Player of the Week honors on Monday.
Team-wise, the 'Dogs' 14 blocks was its third-best total of the season, and just shy of its tallies vs. Utah State (18) and Santa Clara (15).
With her 19 digs, freshman Maggie Eppright led the team in digs for the ninth time this year, and was one of three 'Dogs in double digits with Wild (14) and Franks (10).
The Tollhouse, Calif., native Franks posted her seventh double-double of the year and led the team in aces (2) for the sixth time.
For UNM, Chantale Riddle - the MW leader in kills and points coming into the match - was held to 12 and 15, respectively, and a .098 hitting percentage.
Two other Lobos ended with +10 kills - Julia Warren (14, .281) and Devanne Sours (11, .391), and Warren added a team-high 22 digs for the double-double. Other UNM category leaders included Hannah Johnson (50 assists), Lexi Ross (2 aces) and Riddle (6 blocks).
Catch the Wave - Looking ahead, Fresno State hosts Air Force for an 11 a.m. match Saturday, October 19 at the Save Mart Center. The match is an hour earlier than originally scheduled, and as part of the 'Salute to Services' promotion, active military and veterans will get free admission with a current military ID.
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