Fresno State senior outside hitter Zana Bowens (18) had 11 kills in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Utah State. (Khone Saysamongdy)
The Fresno State volleyball team bounced back from its heartbreaking five-set loss to Boise State Thursday night with a 3-0 sweep of the Utah State Aggies on Halloween.
Set 1 started in the Bulldogs’ favor as they limited Utah State to only one kill offensively out of the gate, quickly jumping out to a 13-6 lead.
With a match-high 20 digs defensively, and three service aces, Fresno State claimed the first set 25-17. Junior Aleisha Coates had an impressive showing in the first set, posting five kills while senior Zana Bowens recorded four of her own.
“I think on Thursday and today we played very well so I’m happy to see that consistency,” head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “I think we need to continue doing what we’re doing, it’s just a maturity factor. We play everyone tough, doesn’t matter who they are. We play to win.”
The ‘Dogs used their best offensive output of the match in Set 2 as the team combined for 22 kills in 38 attacks on 21 assists and a hitting percentage of .500. The team also had a sideout percentage of .79 as they were successful on 19-of-24 chances.
Coates continued her impressive start into the second set recording another eight kills, with Bowens adding five.
The tide quickly changed in Set 3 as the Aggies jumped out to their first lead of the match. However, that lead would last a short time as the ‘Dogs used four blocks to come from behind to tie it up and take the lead halfway through the set.
Fresno State built upon those four blocks, leading to a 25-22 Set 3 win and a sweep of the Aggies. Coates was limited to just one kill in the third period, finishing her night with 14. Bowens finished right behind her with 11 and senior Jelena Jovanovic rounded out the Top 3 with six kills, one shy of her season-high.
Junior Maggie Eppright – who has not missed a set this season – lead the way once again for the ‘Dogs defensively as she put up the lone double-digit dig figure at 19. Freshman Gertu Vider contributed a pair of the team’s four blocks to help down the Aggies.
The Bulldogs controlled just about every asset of the game as they led in all but two categories over the three sets, including kills (51) , assists (48) and digs (52).
With the ‘Dogs up 2-0 Thursday against Boise State, the third set victory for the Broncos spelled misfortune for the ‘Dogs. Coming into that matchup, the team was a combined mere 4-8 in matches decided in four or five sets. Their ability to close out Set 3 Saturday was key and improved its record in matches decided in three sets to 9-3.
“What we were hoping for this afternoon was to stay steady and close when the match gets tight,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We couldn’t do on Thursday, so I’m happy with that adjustment.”