Fresno State freshmen Carly Scarbrough and Lauren Torres attempt to block a San Jose State spike during the Bulldogs’ 3-0 sweep of the Spartans Saturday at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian
Each set took more than 25 points to finish — one even went up to 30. The San Jose State and Fresno State volleyball teams just wouldn’t quit.
So Fresno State, a team seeking improvement in a rebuilding year, had to be tenacious and avoid costly mistakes to sweep the Spartans and snap its losing streak.
It was a matchup between two teams searching for their first conference win in Mountain West play, and Fresno State prevailed with set victories of 28-26, 27-25 and 30-28.
“I was proud,” Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “Against Nevada, we had so many chances and really struggled in points 20 to 25. Tonight, that was our goal to stay tough in those situations.”
Fresno State used three straight points to help build an early 13-10 lead in the first set. San Jose State snapped out of its slow start and outscored the Bulldogs 10-1, including a stretch of six unanswered points to take a 20-16 advantage. Fresno State rallied back to take a 23-22 lead, but had to fend off three set-point attempts from the Spartans. With the score tied at 26, back-to-back kills from senior outside hitter Jamiee-Lee Morrow and senior middle blocker Maci Murdock gave the Bulldogs the 28-26 set win.
In the second set, the ‘Dogs broke a 3-3 tie with three straight points and held their lead for nearly the entirety of the set until San Jose State tied it up at 23. The Bulldogs missed two opportunities with set point, but with the score tied at 25, two unreturned serves finished the frame — a service error by San Jose State’s Nandyala Gama and a service ace by Fresno State’s sophomore libero Maggie Eppright.
The third set was the longest of the three, featuring 14 ties and seven lead changes. Trailing 24-22, Fresno State successfully defended two Spartan opportunities to take the set with a kill from junior setter Jelena Jovanovic and an SJSU attack error. Both teams squandered two set points until the Bulldogs broke a 28-28 tie. A kill by freshman middle blocker Lauren Torres set the Bulldogs up for the match point. A collective block from Torres and Bowens sealed the match.
“We’ve been playing with our lineup, so it was good that we found something that works,” Bowens said. “We went after it and tried to play aggressively to win. We served tough balls to get them out of system, but we need to keep working on our defense. It was great to have both setters clicking, and they made it easy for the hitters.”
Murdock added 13 kills to go along with Bowens’ 15 kills, but the senior also had 10 attack errors, finishing with .100 hitting. The Bulldogs outhit the Spartans .269-.239 overall.
Fresno State improves to 6-12 overall and 1-3 in Mountain West play. The ‘Dogs will head on the road for their next four conference matchups, starting at Wyoming (13-4, 2-2 MW) on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT and then at No. 7 Colorado State (16-1, 4-0) on Saturday at noon PT.