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The Weber State University volleyball team lost a pair of close-scoring home matches last Thursday and Saturday for Homecoming Week.
The Wildcats faced the University of North Dakota on Thursday night for the first-ever matchup between the two in school history.
The first set was a promising start to the game for WSU. Throughout the set, the scores were closely back-and-forth. The Wildcats were able to stay on top with the lead and won the first set with a score of 25-23 with the help of seven kills from Rebecca Fuchs and 11 assists from Caitlin Penrod.
The second set was a very tight race all the way to the finish. The ‘Cats battled neck-and-neck against UND, with neither team rarely getting or giving up more than a three-point lead. At the end of the set, however, UND was able to come out with the win, defeating the Wildcats in the second set with a score of 28-26.
Similarly to the first two sets, the score of the third set was very close throughout. The Wildcats were able to fight off UND to win the third set with a score of 25-23.
WSU began the fourth set against UND with a 2-1 set lead. The fourth set was a similar sight, as the scores were dragged out until the very end. The Wildcats couldn’t maintain the lead over UND, and they lost with a close score of 25-23.
The fifth and final set was a disappointing climax to a very tight match for the Wildcats. UND pulled away with an early lead, and the Wildcats were never able to catch up. UND won the set with a score of 15-8. WSU lost the game to UND after a valiant effort throughout five grueling sets.
Highlights for the Wildcats during the match included 18 kills from Fuchs (tying her career high), 13 kills from Briana Wilms, 12 kills from Piper Wahlin, 18 digs from Lauren Bodily and 57 assists from Penrod.
The next match for the Wildcats took place on Saturday afternoon against the first-place Big Sky Conference school — the University of Northern Colorado.
The beginning of the first set was quite a close matchup for WSU. The lead escaped the Wildcats, however, as the set played on, and the Wildcats lost the set to UNC with a score of 25-16.
The second set played out in a similar style to the first. Although the beginning of the set was close for the ‘Cats, UNC sped off with the lead and the Wildcats fell to a 25-16 loss for the set.
The third and final set for the match was a solid effort for the Wildcats and an intense finish to the game. The Wildcats were unable to climb atop the scoreboard against the Bears until the score read 25-24 for the Wildcats at the end of the set. Having to win the set by two points, the Wildcats fought back and forth during the set, with great excitement and participation from the WSU crowd. At the end of the set, WSU couldn’t gain the lead again and lost the set with a score of 28-26. The Wildcats were left with heavy applause from the crowd for their tough play.
Although the Wildcats faced the top-ranked Big Sky university, Wahlin said they felt they had enough in them to get the job done.
“We came out believing we could actually beat them,” she said. “. . . We were playing point-for-point for a while and almost took them.”
Although the Wildcats lost in three sets to the Bears, they showed some promise in the tight-scoring third set.
“(We did) nothing magical, we just played better,” laughed WSU Head Coach Tom Peterson, in reference to the improved play after the first two sets against UNC. “. . . It wasn’t as big a mismatch as people will even say. We could have played better the first two games. I think we were too nervous, thinking, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be the best team in the conference’, but we’re getting better ourselves, and if you give yourself a chance, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Highlights for WSU against UNC included 10 kills from Fuchs, 18 assists from Whitney Hunt and 12 digs from Bodily.
The Wildcats (0-4, 6-9) will move on from their home losses as they next travel to the University of Montana on Friday night and Montana State University on Saturday night.