San Diego State’s Danielle Bolden (8), Deja Harris (15) and Baylee Little (16) go in for the block during Saturday’s conference matchup between the ‘Dogs and Aztecs at Save Mart Center. (Khone Saysamongdy)
The Fresno State volleyball team lost a tough one Saturday at the Save Mart Center, falling 3-2 to the San Diego State Aztecs.
“We were really flat out of the gates,” head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “We couldn’t seem to find it defensively but offensively we were okay.”
Coming off a 3-0 sweep of Nevada on Thursday, the ‘Dogs looked to close off the homestand with another conference win. After falling behind early in Set 1, Fresno State battled back to force the set past regulation, the seventh time they have done that this season. But the Aztecs would outlast the ‘Dogs and take Set 1, 25-23.
The Aztecs used their momentum from closing out the first set and dominated the ‘Dogs in Set 2 en route to a 10-point lead and set win, 25-15.
The Bulldogs again trailed in Set 3, but used a 16-kill team effort to come back on three occasions to take the set 25-23. The ‘Dogs used another 16-kill team effort and a .417 hitting percentage showing to take Set 4 and even the match 2-2 heading into the fifth and decisive set.
“The team made some adjustments in Set 3 and battled back,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We have only lost in five set matches during conference play, so we’re not making it easy for other teams to win by any means.”
The Aztecs came out and quickly set the tone for the fifth set. The pace of the set was right where the Aztecs wanted it. They were able to walk away with a 15-11 set win and a 3-2 win, marking their second conference victory of the season.
Leading the ‘Dogs offensively were outside hitters Zana Bowens and Carly Scarbrough as each finished with 17 kills. Junior Aleisha Coates was right behind them, adding 10 kills of her own to the team’s 70 kills for the match. Senior setter Jelena Jovanovic, who played in all five sets, finished her night with a season-high 38 assists and set a new personal career-high with seven kills as well as 13 attempts.
Junior libero Maggie Eppright once again led the ‘Dogs defensively, posting a season-high 26 digs for the match, just two shy of her career record. This was her 10th game this season with at least 20 or more digs and she continues to lead the conference with a 4.99 digs per set average. Bowens also posted double-digit dig figures for the night, contributing 12 digs to go along with her 17 kills.
“Being down two sets and coming back to win the next two is very tough to do in our sport,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We’re going to keep building on that. We’ve been getting better each week and that will eventually pay off.”