LAS VEGAS - There's a reason why conference tournaments provide the most exhilarating and thrilling stages to watch college volleyball.
The Fresno State volleyball team stunned 16-time defending regular season champion No. 3 Hawai'i by taking the first two sets, but the top-seeded Rainbow Wahine rallied for a scrappy 3-2 victory in the Western Athletic Conference Semifinals.
"I am really proud of my team tonight," head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "What a distance we have traveled, from a very streaky young team with not a lot of confidence to an impressive and fun team to watch."
Fresno State went swing-for-swing, block-for-block and dig-for-dig with Hawai'i, who entered Tuesday night's match at 26-1 and ranked third in the nation by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, for most of the night.
The Bulldogs were clicking on all cylinders right from the first serve and frustrated the potent Rainbow Wahine with strong passing and a dynamite attack that outhit the top-seed .240 in .230 in the near wire-to-wire opening 25-23 set victory. Fresno State led by as many as five points at 19-14 before sophomore Korrin Wild blasted the set-clinching kill to crush a late Hawai'i rally and give the Bulldogs the early lead.
In the second set, the Rainbow Wahine took a 10-6 lead to put themselves back in the match, but Fresno State rattled off an 11-2 run to pull ahead 17-12 and coasted to the 25-19 set two win for a 2-0 lead over Hawai'i. It marked just the second time in school history that the Bulldogs won a pair of sets on UH.
The third-set featured a close-heart pounding battle until Hawai'i pulled away for the 25-20 win and used the momentum to rally for just their third five-set win of the year.
Fresno State (14-15) finished the season tied for third at the tournament following a tie for fourth place regular season finish.
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