'Dogs Thrill in Five-Set Home Finale Win
    Senior Brianna Clarke hugs head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell during the Bulldogs' Senior Night Ceremony before Fresno State downed Utah State 3-2 in thrilling fashion.
    Senior Brianna Clarke hugs head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell during the Bulldogs' Senior Night Ceremony before Fresno State downed Utah State 3-2 in thrilling fashion.
    Nov. 12, 2011

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    FRESNO, Calif. - The energy in the Save Mart Center and a dominant, but steady performance led Fresno State to an emotional Western Athletic Conference closing 3-2 (25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 24-26 and 15-9) victory over defending tournament champion Utah State on Saturday night.

    Seniors Brianna Clarke and Alysia Baker shed tears of joy after wrapping up their home careers with the five-set thriller.

    "The team really worked hard and let us enjoy our last game here," Clarke said of the team's effort. "It was hard tonight with all the emotions and this will be a tough place to leave. I've played all four years here and I will definitely miss all of my teammates, coaches and fans. But we need to keep our focus on rolling into the tournament."

    Fifth-seeded Fresno State (13-14, 7-7 WAC) will face fourth-seeded Utah State (12-16, 7-7 WAC) again on Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Las Vegas' Orleans Arena for opening round action at the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

    "This gives us great momentum heading into the tournament," fourth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "I like where we are at and where we are going. We are ready to get to Vegas."

    In Saturday night's tune-up, the Bulldogs and Aggies played a very competitively first set that saw 12 ties and four leads changes before the 'Dogs pulled away from a 20-20 tie with a 4-1 run to earn the opening set win, 25-21.

    Fresno State fell behind by seven-points early in the second set, yet powered to an 18-5 set closing clip to record the 25-19 set win and take a 2-0 lead at the break.

    After USU took the third (25-20) and fourth sets (26-24), the Bulldogs dominated in the deciding set 15-9 largely behind the unstoppable force of Clarke's arm that yielded six of her 14 kills for the night.

    "The crowd really makes a difference as we feed off their energy," Clarke said. "We can feel them on every play."

    Three Bulldogs notched career-best statistical performances, which were led by sophomore outside hitter Korrin Wild's relentless 27 kills. Sophomore Lauren Albertson recorded her career-high with 17 kills on the right side and junior setter Barbara Alcantara tossed up 56 assists to help the 'Dogs capture the conference win.

    Freshman libero Christina Lee added 17 digs for her seventh-straight double digit match and Baker chipped in with nine digs.

    "We overcame adversity and came out on top," Baker said. "It's a great feeling to get a win anytime, but especially in a match like tonight."

    The Bulldogs will play one final exhibition contest on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. across town at Fresno Pacific before making the trip to Las Vegas next weekend and begin preparation for their final conference tournament as a member of the WAC.

     

     

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