Oct. 31, 2013
By Geoff Thurner
RENO, Nevada - The Fresno State volleyball team (14-9, 8-3) maintained its hold on second place in the Mountain West with a 3-0 victory at Nevada (2-21, 0-11) Thursday night.
The `Dogs scored a 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 victory at the Virginia Street Gym to savor their seventh victory in their last eight contests and open the second half of MW play.
"We finished the match really well," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "We have to get better at defending teams that hit low to the net - we struggled a little there. Once we adjusted our blocking to be more over the net and not as high, we started playing our game and sided out well."
Team-wise, Fresno State served up a season high 11 aces - one better than its prior best (10) in a four-set match vs. Wichita State, and allowed only one to Nevada. The `Dogs also ended the match with team advantages in kills (40-32), hitting (.302-.165), assists (38-29), digs (41-24) and blocks (7-6).
Individually, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock led the team in kills (10) and hitting (.692) for the 12th and first time, respectively, this year. Her one error on 13 attempts marked her eighth +.600 total of the year - and raised her conference-leading season hitting average in MW play to .443.
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand tied for the team high in kills (10) for the fifth time in 2013, and her 10 digs notched her seventh double-double of the season and 35th career-wise. The former All-WAC pick also landed multiple aces for the first time this year with her two Thursday.
Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild almost gave the team a third hitter with +10 kills for the 10th time this year. The returning All-MW choice ended with nine kills, hit .294, and her three aces was one off her season high.
Junior setter Christian Lee and freshman Brooke Legaux ended with 27 and seven assists, respectively, and led the team to its ninth +.300 total of the year (and all in the last 16 matches).
On defense, Murdock's four blocks topped the team for the 11th occasion this year, and Brand held similar honors for digs for the third time and landed a season-high two aces.
Among other notes, sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens and freshman Maggie Eppright both landed a career-high tying three aces to lead the squad for the third and fifth time in '13, respectively, and senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson racked up six kills and hit .625 in her first start since September 20 (and 11th of season).
"Maci was totally unstoppable especially when they only put one blocker on her," Netherby-Sewell said. "Marissa is starting to serve really well, hitting her target, and putting a lot of float speed on the ball. Zana was terrific serving and was really picking one of their players, Jaimee-Lee also sparked the offense, and I'm glad we got Lauren back involved. She's a smart player and does a lot of things well, so it was good to get her back in the flow."
For the Wolf Pack, Grace Anxo led the home team in kills (12), while other Nevada category leaders included Sam Willougby (.308), Lyndsey Anderson (1 ace), Tessa Lea'ea (4 blocks) and Kara Kasser (8 digs).
In set 1, the `Dogs pushed out to a 10-6 lead on three of Brand's six kills in the set. Nevada came back with a four-point run to re-tie it, 14-14, but a 5-1 Bulldog response included an ace by Bowens to make it 19-15. Brand later added an ace, and two kills by Murdock gave the `Dogs a 25-17 set 1 win.
In set 2, Nevada led the first half of the period, but saw its 12-8 lead dwindle to a 12-12 tie by a Wild kill and ace and two `Pack errors. Fresno State then added another six-point run to go up, 18-13, then ended the set on a 7-6 run en route to a 25-19 score.
In set 3, Murdock used a three straight kills and two block assists to fuel a 5-1 run and an early Bulldog 8-5 lead. Wild helped pushed the lead to 17-9 on two aces and a kill. A pair of kills by sophomore outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow pushed the lead to 20-12, and Eppright landed a pair of aces late in the 25-16 finale.
Looking ahead, the `Dogs play again on Friday night at San Jose State (5-16, 2-8) at 7 p.m.
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