After sweeping the University of New Mexico on Thursday night in three sets, the Fresno State women’s volleyball team hosted the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels on Saturday afternoon at the Save Mart Center.
The Rebels defeated the Bulldogs 3-2, breaking Fresno State’s five-match undefeated streak and giving the ‘Dogs their first loss in Mountain West conference play.
The first set started with the Bulldogs coming out ready to play, scoring the first seven points of the set before UNLV answered with a point of its own. The Rebels were resilient and were able to take advantage of the Bulldogs’ mistakes in the set, coming to within a point of the ‘Dogs.
However, the Bulldogs’ offense found success against the Rebels’ defense, generating a lead that carried the ‘Dogs to the end of the set, which they won 25-19.
For the second set, the Rebels got an early lead on the Bulldogs, however, the ‘Dogs managed a comeback and tied it up. A real back-and-forth battle ensued in the game with both teams fighting for every point in the set.
The Bulldogs started to pull away from the Rebels toward the end of the set, but the Rebels’ offense began to take advantage of the Bulldogs’ errors on defense. With the set all tied up at 22 points, the Bulldogs seemed to lose all their momentum, giving the Rebels control of the set.
With momentum on their side, the Rebels took the lead from the Bulldogs and captured the second set 25-22.
The third set of the match was much like the previous set with both teams going toe-to-toe and neither wanting to give any leeway to the other. Momentum shifted in the middle of the set, and the Rebels were getting the better of the Bulldogs.
UNLV’s lead started to grow more and the Bulldogs were not able to stop the Rebels from scoring at will. The Rebels’ lead grew to six points, but the ‘Dogs kept pushing and were able to close the point deficit from six to three.
But the Rebels’ lead was too much for the Bulldogs, winning the set 25-22 and taking a 2-1 match lead.
In the fourth set, the Rebels continued with their momentum from the previous set, scoring the first five points of the match without a Bulldog answer. Fresno State started to outscore the Rebels and began to close in on UNLV’s lead.
Fresno State was not able to keep up the offensive attack, and the Rebels maintained their lead throughout the first half of the set. The Bulldogs took advantage of several errors by the UNLV defense and managed to tie up the set and later take a two-point lead.
The Rebels tied the set at 23 points. However, the Bulldogs took the next point, giving them the lead. Fresno State took the set with the next point 25-23, tying it all up and sending the match to a fifth set and last set.
The Rebels were quick to put up points and took a four-point lead in the set. However, the Bulldogs took control offensively and began to close the point gap created by the Rebels.
As soon as the Bulldogs got close in points to the Rebels, UNLV’s defense regained control of the match by not allowing any more points from the ‘Dogs. The Rebels won the set 15-11, handing the Bulldogs their first defeat in conference play and their first loss in five consecutive matches.
For the Bulldogs, outside hitter Desiree Sukhov had 22 kills, 12 digs and 63 total attempts. Setter Madelyn Halteman had 47 assists and 18 digs.
After the match, head coach Jonathan Winder said that the team didn’t pass very well, they didn’t serve tough and that is why the Rebels were able to do what they wanted on offense. Winder also said he was happy that the team stayed in the match and was happy how the team handled adversity.
“This was the first time for a lot of our players having to see the highest level in our conference…all in all I thought there was some good moments, but we weren’t there consistently enough at the highest level,” Winder said. “Sometimes losses can be great…it will be interesting to see how this group responds after this loss.”