For the Fresno State volleyball team, a fast and early start fizzled, but then transformed into a thrilling win over Colorado State—the team’s fourth Mountain West Conference victory of the season.
Fresno State won against a Colorado State team that entered the game as the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West. Prior to the match, the Rams (10-6, 3-2 MWC) were second in conference standings.
The Bulldogs 3-2 win [25-15, 20-25, 27-25, 26-28, 15-12] over the Rams helped further solidify their spot as one of the teams leading the hunt for the Mountain West crown.
“This is definitely a tough conference top to bottom,” coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said.
“Everybody has a shot to beat anybody. Beating one of the better teams in the conference is just a huge, huge win for us. I don’t think a lot of teams will beat Colorado State. That puts us back in the hunt again.”
Fresno State (11-7, 4-2 MWC) got off to a fast 6-1 start in its first set, but Colorado State rallied back to tie the set at 12.
After the tie, outside hitter Korrin Wild, right side blocker Megan Callahan and middle blocker Maci Murdock each netted kills to spearhead a four-point lead—one the Bulldogs would not relent for the remainder of the set.
The Bulldogs offense seemed to reach their peak when it scored six unanswered points (five of them kills) after leading 18-14.
After the tie at 12, Fresno State outscored the Rams 13-3 to help it secure a 25-15 first set win.
Thursday’s game was a match in which the Rams did not seem to have answer for Wild, whose attacking from the outside led to a team-high 23 kills. She also led the team with 23 digs.
“Nobody had an answer for her,” Netherby-Sewell said. “I don’t think anyone could have stopped her in the world. She was the player I knew she could be. She played it smart, competitive and smooth.”
Senior setter Barbara Alcantara led the team with 57 digs. Junior oustside hitter Marissa Brand and junior middle blocker Lauren Albertson recorded 16 and 11 kills, respectively.
Competitive play from both teams led the match to be decided in a fifth and final set.
“They’re a really great team,” Wild said. “We really just took away a lot of their offense with our serve-and-pass.”
The final set was where Wild would net her final eight kills of the match that paved the way for the team’s eventual 15-12 win.
But her last kill probably would not have been possible without right side blocker Katie Pearson.
“We have a very deep bench. So for (Katie) to come in and do her duty was fantastic,” Wild said.
With the Bulldogs leading 13-10, Pearson deflected a Colorado State attack that set up Wild’s final kill of the match—the 14th point of the set.
On the match point, with Murdock and Pearson in position to block an attack, a Rams player lost control of the ball just before she was about to attack. The ball failed to pass the Rams’ side of the net.
Pearson was the fifth set’s “secret weapon,” Netherby-Sewell said.
“That’s what she was,” Netherby-Sewell said. “She went in and did what I asked her to do. I said block and make a few big plays for us, and she did just that.”
Thursday night’s win was the first of four consecutive home games for Fresno State. It is the team’s longest home stand of the season.
The Bulldogs played in pink jerseys in observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Fresno State continues Mountain West play on Saturday when it hosts Wyoming. The Bulldogs will face Colorado State again on Nov. 10 in Fort Collins, Colo.
“(This win) puts us one step closer, honestly,” Wild said. “Not a lot of teams will be able to beat them this season—they’re a great team. But to get that that win under our belt, it really puts us where we want to go.”