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Fresno State senior outside hitter Zana Bowens was one of two seniors honored prior to Wednesday’s home finale as part of Senior Night. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Volleyball: Gritty effort not enough as ‘Dogs fall to Cowgirls on Senior Night

Fresno State senior outside hitter Zana Bowens was one of two seniors honored prior to Wednesday’s home finale as part of Senior Night. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Fresno State senior outside hitter Zana Bowens was one of two seniors honored prior to Wednesday’s home finale as part of Senior Night. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

The Fresno State volleyball team’s valiant comeback effort fell short Wednesday, falling 3-1 to Wyoming.

“We’re fed up with being the entertaining team to watch that has chances and takes any team to the limit,” head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said.

The ‘Dogs have struggled against the Cowgirls in recent matchups – losing three of the last four since Wyoming joined the conference – and Wednesday was no different.

After falling behind early in Set 1, the Bulldogs rallied back to score eight of the next 10 points on their way to their first lead. They held onto that for the duration of the set on their way to a 25-18 Set 1 victory. Sophomore Carly Scarbrough led the way with four kills. Junior Aleisha Coates was right behind her with three, and the ‘Dogs had seven different players record a kill in the set.

Fresno State was in for a highly contested second set. After losing 10 of the first 15 points in the set, it rallied back and tied the score at 21, forcing Wyoming to take a timeout.

Immediately following the break, the ‘Dogs suffered a service error which ultimately ended their comeback attempt as they’d go on to lose Set 2, 25-22. Scarbrough once again led the way with five more kills, while freshman Sabrina Winslow posted four.

Following the short intermission, the ‘Dogs got up early, but Wyoming kept firing back. In a set that saw 11 tied scores and five lead changes, it ultimately came down to whom made the first mistake, and the ‘Dogs made it with the score tied at 27.

The ‘Dogs lost the next point after they played a ball that would have clearly gone out past the back line. Wyoming escaped Set 3 with a 29-27 victory. Scarbrough and Coates led the way for the ‘Dogs offensively with six kills apiece.

“We did a lot of good things in that match, but we have to continue that success when it matters the most,” Netherby-Sewell said.

Ultimately, the No. 3 team in the conference was just too much for the ‘Dogs to handle. Every time the ‘Dogs attempted a comeback in Set 4, the Cowgirls had an answer. Wyoming held its ground after another back-and-forth set and escaped with the 25-20 win to clinch the match.

The Cowgirls had five different girls record at least eight kills in the match, and their ability to fire from all different angles downed the ‘Dogs.

“The team has to learn to be aggressive when we have opportunities,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We definitely have the talent, ability and work ethic to do it which makes tonight a frustrating loss – especially for the seniors.”

Leading the way for the Bulldogs offensively was Scrabrough, who finished with a game-high 18 kills, and Winslow was right behind her with 12. Senior Jelena Jovanovic finished her final home game as a Bulldog with 21 assists, just behind junior Brooke Legaux’s 28.

Also playing in her final home game, senior Zana Bowens recorded 19 digs to help the ‘Dogs defensively, just behind junior Maggie Eppright who once again posted a double-digit night in digs with 25.

Prior to Wednesday’s contest, the Bulldogs honored their two seniors who played in their final game at Save Mart Center. Bowens, who currently ranks second on the team in kills this season, led the 2014 ‘Dogs with 356. Jovanovic currently ranks second amongst her teammates with 322 assists this season, but led the 2014 ‘Dogs with 670.

The two were honored in a pregame ceremony and were flooded with gifts from the coaches for their contributions to the program.