Fresno State etched its name in the record books Tuesday night in their 3-0 volleyball victory over California State University, Bakersfield.
The 862 in attendance at the Save Mart Center witnessed the team set a program record for most blocks in a three set match with 21, which shattered the previous record of 15, set in 2007 against Hawaii. To put the feat in perspective, the Bulldogs accumulated 22 blocks over their previous two games before Tuesday.
Head volleyball coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said the performance could be attributed to their dedication to blocking during practice.
“We’ve been working on blocking a lot, just getting their eye patterns to be a little bit sharper,” Netherby-Sewell said. “I told the [middle blockers] recently, ‘You guys have to love blocking and make it your specialty.’”
Middle blockers Lauren Torres and Haile Watson impacted the match with their blocking. Torres and Watson finished with 9 and 10 blocks respectively.
“We’ve been working really hard this entire week on blocking and just the small details, and tonight it just showed that the small details count,” Watson said.
The team did not win on blocking alone. Taylor Slover and Brielle Hefner led the way in the kills category with 13 and 10 respectively. Hefner also did not commit an error on 16 attempts.
“Brielle has been unbelievably solid for us,” Netherby-Sewell said. “Zero errors on 16 attempts tonight is unreal.”
Hefner also contributed with her tenacity, going as far as diving into the scorer’s table to save a point during the third set.
Setter Madelyn Halteman earned her second consecutive double-double with 10 digs and 31 assists.
Halteman was everywhere and anywhere her team needed her to be, offensively and defensively. Netherby-Sewell said the sophomore is a key part of their game plan.
“[Halteman’s] got a lot of pressure on her,” Netherby-Sewell said, “When she plays well, we play well. We expect a lot out of her and as long as she’s really dialed in she can do a lot for us and I’m happy to see her doing that.”
But the Bulldogs struggled much more than the clean sweep of the Roadrunners would suggest. In the first two sets, the Bulldogs were unable to dominate the Roadrunners.
The Roadrunners led 19-18 late in the first set, an obstacle that the Bulldogs responded to by going on a 7-1 run to win the set. They responded similarly to a 20-17 deficit in the second set with a 8-1 run for the 2-0 set lead.
The Bulldogs found their footing in the third set and dominated, winning 25-13 and holding the Roadrunners to a .000 hitting percentage.
“Honestly, we didn’t start playing our best until the third set, so that just shows how good we can be because we still beat them not playing our best the first two sets,” Hefner said. “But it was just fun to show them that we’re the best in the valley.”
Netherby-Sewell said it sometimes takes the team some time to figure a team out, which in turn leads to slow starts.
The Bulldogs hope to play all sets like they played the third starting Friday at the Saint Mary’s/USF Challenge, where they will play Saint Mary’s, California State University, Northridge and the University of San Francisco over the course of two days.