May 28, 2020
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Fresno State middle blocker Maci Murdock (16) attempts a kill during the Bulldogs’ 3-0 victory over the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds Tuesday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

Volleyball: Fresno State’s home opener ends with victory over crosstown rivals

The Fresno State volleyball team swept the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 3-0 Tuesday in its home opener in front of a crowd of 1,784.

Fresno State middle blocker Maci Murdock (16) attempts a kill during the Bulldogs’ 3-0 victory over the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds Tuesday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

Fresno State middle blocker Maci Murdock (16) attempts a kill during the Bulldogs’ 3-0 victory over the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds Tuesday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

Fresno State defeated Fresno Pacific in the exhibition match by set margins of 25-20, 25-21, and 25-23.

The Bulldogs were led by middle blocker Maci Murdock’s career-high 15 kills.

“It was a great local match,” Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “Fresno Pacific, a good team, played us really tough. It didn’t make a lot of unforced errors, so we had to earn our points. And at this point in the season, we needed that.”

The Bulldogs came in off a rough three-loss weekend. With four freshmen making their first start in the Save Mart Center, nerves and confidence affected the team early. Fresno Pacific opened the first set with six straight points to give the cross-town rival early momentum.

“It was just a lot of nerves and a lot to take in,” Netherby-Sewell said. “I knew once [the Bulldogs] scored one point, they would relax a little bit. Then the run we came back was very hard to do, so that was impressive.”

The Bulldogs settled down and evened the score at 15 on defensive specialist Jacqueline Hutcheson’s ace. A kill by freshman outside hitter Carly Scarbrough gave the ‘Dogs their first lead of the night.

Fresno State extended its lead to four, outscoring the Sunbirds in a 10-2 stretch for a 20-16 advantage. The Bulldogs closed out the set with a 25-20 win led by Scarbrough’s five kills and six digs, along with seven kills from Maci Murdock and Brooke Legaux’s 15 assists.

Fresno State took a 5-3 lead to open the second set and never surrendered but had trouble pulling away from the Sunbirds. Neither team scored more than two consecutive points until FPU came within one, trailing the Bulldogs 20-19.

An error by the Sunbirds prevented them from evening the score, and a kill by Murdock forced FPU to call timeout. Fresno State kept the momentum rolling after the whistle with back-to-back kills from Scarbrough and Murdock to cap four unanswered points for the ‘Dogs.

“[Netherby-Sewell] just said to play our game and come together as a team,” Murdock said. “We did less errors, we put the ball down, and we won.”
An FPU service error closed the 25-21 set win, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 set advantage.

After two frames with only one lead change, the third set was a back-and-forth contest with seven ties and three lead changes. Timely kills by Murdock and Scarbrough again helped the Bulldogs late in the set to take a 25-23 victory and complete the sweep.

Fresno State finished with a 52-32 advantage in kills, a hitting advantage of .270-.214 and led the Sunbirds 49-36 in digs. Along with Murdock’s 15 kills and .464 hitting, Scarbrough finished with 11 kills and 8 digs and Legaux finished with 31 assists.

Fresno State next opens Mountain West play on Thursday at UNLV at 6 p.m. and will play their third game of the week at San Diego State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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