Fresno State outside hitter Zana Bowens attempts a kill during the ‘Dogs’ 3-1 loss to the San Diego State Aztecs Oct. 23. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian
The Fresno State volleyball team won the first frame of the four-set contest, then lost the next three to the UNLV Rebels Saturday at the Save Mart Center.
Led by junior outside hitter Zana Bowens’ 12 kills and nine digs, the ‘Dogs started off on the right foot, winning 25-21, but UNLV bounced back with 25-11, 25-23 and 25-19 victories for the 3-1 match win.
The Rebels came into Saturday’s game having won five-straight games and dropped only one lone set over that stretch. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, entered the weekend on an exactly opposite note: a five-game losing streak with only one set win.
But the first set on Saturday’s match quickly became something that neither team has been used to lately.
After UNLV scored the first two points, the Bulldogs scored the next 10, unanswered, on five Rebel attack errors. Senior outside hitters Bowens and Jamie-Lee Morrow tallied two kills apiece. UNLV was never able to recover, only coming within four points, before the Bulldogs took the set 25-21.
“We haven’t opened with a set win, I think, in a while,” Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “[I’m] really happy with the first set and how we came out ready to play.”
A Fresno State serving error got momentum rolling for the Rebels in the second set, leading to two quick four-point runs. UNLV never let up on its early 12-4 lead and won the set by a wide margin of 25-11.
UNLV appeared to be rolling through the third set with a 16-9 lead, but Fresno State got back into the game with another big run. Multiple UNLV errors and a pair of kills from Bowens led the Bulldogs to eight unanswered points to take a 17-16 advantage. UNLV regained a three-point lead, yet the ‘Dogs stayed alive thanks to Morrow, who scored the team’s last four points on kills.
Trailing 24-23, an attack error by Bowens closed the set and gave UNLV a 2-1 set advantage.
“Coming back in the third set the way we did is very, very difficult in our sport,” Netherby-Sewell said. “It’s such a game of momentum. I saw a lot of bright things. We played even better tonight than we did on Thursday.”
Trailing 20-12, the Bulldogs made a push to get within three points of UNLV, but the Rebels closed out the set with three straight scores to win 25-19. The set closed out the 3-1 defeat, which was a better showing than when the Bulldogs were swept at UNLV last month.
“The last time we played UNLV, honestly, we were all over the place,” freshman middle blocker Lauren Torres said. “From then to now, I would say we fought a lot harder. And we didn’t give up, and obviously our spirits and energy were up. That just adds an extra boost. Last time we played them, it wasn’t like that.”
The loss drops the ‘Dogs to a record of 6-18 overall and 1-9 in conference play. The Bulldogs stand at 10th of 11 Mountain West schools and are only one of three teams under .500 in conference standings.
Fresno State next heads on the road to play the two schools that fall in that category – San Jose State (3-19, 0-9) on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Nevada (5-14, 2-7) on Saturday at 1 p.m.