The Fresno State volleyball team was defeated 3-0 on the road by the Utah State Aggies on Thursday. The Aggies took the three sets by scores of 25-13, 25-15 and 28-26. Junior outside hitter Zana Bowens led the Bulldogs’ efforts with 10 kills, and senior middle blocker Maci Murdock added nine more kills on .438 hitting.
Fresno State and Utah State were even at six points to open the first frame, but it was all Aggies for the remainder of the set. Utah State scored the next nine points on three kills from senior outside hitter Rachel Orr and four errors from the Bulldogs down the stretch.
The Aggies outscored the Bulldogs 18-3 reaching set point. The ‘Dogs rallied off four straight points until Utah State finished off the set. Fresno State had 11 errors and only six kills in the set, finishing with -.167 hitting.
The Bulldogs and Aggies played close again for a longer portion of the second set, but Utah State again pulled away with multiple scoring runs. Utah State held a 13-10 lead, but closed the set by outscoring the Bulldogs 12-5, including one run of four straight points and two runs of three straight points.
Fresno State had trouble countering Utah State’s top players. The Mountain West’s leading blocker, 6-foot-5 opposite side hitter Ellie Brainard and senior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff gave the Bulldogs problems all night long, as the Aggies outblocked the ‘Dogs 16-0. USU kills leader Rachel Orr continued to deliver strong spikes with a game-high 16 kills. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, finished with 24 attack errors and just .078 hitting.
The ‘Dogs’ only lead of the first two sets came when they scored the match’s opening point to take a 1-0 lead in the first frame.
After two lopsided sets, the lead in the third set never grew greater than three points and needed to go past regulation to decide the outcome. Bowens and Murdock combined for 12 kills in the set, but the Bulldogs fell just short after 18 ties and seven lead changes. The Bulldogs defended two Utah State match points and had their chance to extend the game to a fourth set with a 26-25 set point. Instead, Orr tied the game for Utah State with a kill, and back-to-back errors by Fresno State closed out the sweep with a set score of 28-26 for the Aggies.
The loss is the Bulldogs’ third straight, all of which were sweeps. The third set of Thursday’s game was the only set among the three games to finish with a margin of fewer than eight points.
The Fresno State Bulldogs fall to 6-15 on the season and 1-6 in conference play, which lands them in 10th place in the Mountain West standings. Fresno State finishes its stretch of four straight road games with a matchup at Boise State on Saturday. The game will tip off at 1 p.m.
The ‘Dogs then return home for games on Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 versus San Diego State and UNLV, respectively.