For the first time since Oct. 3, the Fresno State women’s volleyball team needed more than three sets to finish off its opponent.
And, in the words of one emotionally-drained fan, the Bulldogs put the Red Wave through the wringer.
“Every win is a great win, no matter how you get it,” said senior outside hitter Korrin Wild. “We battled through tonight. Our numbers weren’t as high as the past couple of games but we worked hard.”
In a five-set showdown against Mountain West Conference rival New Mexico, the Bulldogs battled through adversity and improved on their discipline when they needed it: the final two sets.
“We played really shaky in the beginning,” said Fresno State coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell. “We just weren’t serving tough enough.
“Finally in the fifth set we started serving tough. And once we can do that, we can take care of business.”
Fresno State (11-8, 5-2 MWC) was able to move up in the conference standings with a victory over New Mexico (14-4, 5-3 MWC) 25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-6.
Set 1 looked like another day of work for the Bulldogs, as they had a better hitting percentage than the Lobos. Wild and outside hitter Marissa Brand each had four kills. New Mexico freshman Cassie House led her team in the frame with four kills, as well.
Wild also posted four kills in Set 2, but the Bulldogs’ production dipped. They had a .100 hitting percentage and only led the frame once — a Maci Murdock kill gave Fresno State an early 1-0 lead — before the Lobos took the set and tied the game going into halftime. It was the first time Fresno State lost a set since losing at San Diego State two weeks ago.
The turning point in the game happened in the fourth set. Down 2-1, the Bulldogs took an early 5-4 lead and never wavered. The Lobos tried to battle back, but Fresno State performed consistently to outhit New Mexico (.419 to .366) and kept its errors down (it only had three in that set).
A block by Murdock and Holly Franks kept the Bulldogs alive and gave them the Set 4 victory.
“We were able to run all three options [in the fourth set],” Wild said. “We took a look at the numbers and said ‘Hey, we have to start using our outside hands.’
“The setters really started working their hitters around the block and really started using their hands and finding the weaknesses.”
The Bulldogs valiantly played the game-deciding set by scoring nine straight points to start the frame, forcing New Mexico to use both of its timeouts in the process.
New Mexico threatened with a rally, outscoring Fresno State 5-1 after the second timeout before the Bulldogs recovered. An attack from New Mexico right side hitter Chantale Riddle went out of bounds to give Fresno State the match point.
The Bulldogs host the Air Force Falcons Saturday (11 a.m.) at the Save Mart Center. The Falcons (4-14, 1-5 MWC) are coming off a 3-1 loss at San Jose State.
“We just have to keep doing the same thing,” Netherby-Sewell said. “Finally, we had a lesson where we came close and pulled it off in the end.
“I talk about it all the time: we have to serve tough. We have to go out and make it tough for the opponents.”