The Fresno State volleyball team concluded the first half of Mountain West Conference play on Friday night in a four-set loss [25-13, 18-25, 22-25, 25-27] against UNLV.
Both the Bulldogs and the Rebels entered the game with conference-best records of 5-2. Friday night’s loss pushed the Bulldogs into second place – behind both UNLV (14-7, 6-2) and Colorado State (13-6, 6-2)
“It was a little bit of a struggle. We came out with a ton of energy and we served and passed so well,” coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “When that broke down, we started having trouble.”
Outside hitter Marissa Brand led the offense with 14 kills. Right side blocker Megan Callahan added 13 kills, and setter Barbara Alcantara finished with 42 assists.
Friday’s loss was junior outside hitter Korrin Wild’s fourth consecutive game scoring double-digit kills and digs, with 13 and 10, respectively.
Leading 19-8 at one point, the Bulldogs’ offense got off to a fast start in the set. Fresno State recorded 18 of its 57 total kills in the first set.
A strong, dominating 25-13 first-set start, however, did not carry on to the final three sets.
UNLV regained its composure and took sets two, three and four – the last two in hypercompetitive play from both sides. The third set alone featured 11 score ties.
Tied at 24 in the fourth, a 27-25 win for the Rebels, the Bulldogs were on the brink of forcing the game into a fifth set. Fresno State is 6-3 in games decided on a final fifth set.
“We have a lot of practice in set five,” Netherby-Sewell said. “If we can get a team past set four, I’m pretty confident.”
But the Bulldogs were not able to get past the fourth set, despite a play from Wild that Netherby-Sewell said “was probably the best play I’ve ever seen in my career.”
Down 24-23 in the fourth set – and facing the threat of a match point at the hands of UNLV – Wild ran toward a row of seated announcers, line judges and scorekeepers for the ball, with hopes of keeping it in play.
She dived past press row, hitting the ball in Callahan’s direction while simultaneously falling to the other side of the row.
“I was just trying to get the ball back in the court,” Wild said. “There can’t be any hesitation when it’s that late in the game. We kind of put ourselves against the wall.”
The play credited Wild with the assist and tied the game at 24.
“It was amazing,” Netherby-Sewell said. “The crowd got fired up. I honestly thought we had that match after that play happened, so I’m kind of shocked that we couldn’t pull it off.
“I’ve seen players dive over but never make a good play out of it.”
Fresno State will travel to CSU Bakersfield on Thursday for a nonconference match. The Bulldogs will continue the second half of conference play on Saturday at New Mexico. Fresno State will play both Colorado State and UNLV on the road in the latter portion of Mountain West play.
“There’s a big group of us who are in the hunt, so every match is going to matter,” Netherby-Sewell said.
“We’re going on the road against the top teams, and we’re home against the bottom teams. So we’ve got quite the road trips ahead of us. I like our team on the road. I’m pretty confident in what we’re going to do in the second round.”