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The Weber State University volleyball team continued its road trip to start Big Sky play with a contest against the University of North Dakota Thursday night. UND entered the contest having won both of its conference games so far, and WSU had dropped its first two.
It was just a matter of time until the Wildcats were able to gel and figure out how to best position their teammates. This game served notice to the other teams in the conference that the Wildcats will be a force to be reckoned with soon, as they hit a season-high .375. But that wasn’t enough to get the victory, as UND was able to escape with a three-set thriller, 25-22, 25-19, 29-27.
Head coach Tom Peterson said he saw some things he really liked in the team, as it was able to find a rhythm and attack the ball well.
“This game was really great offensively. We hit a lot better tonight,” Peterson said. “In the games in the past, we have been making a lot of changes and moving players around, but not today. We were able to stay with the same group of players, and I think that really helped us get into a groove.”
Sophomore Rebecca Fuchs had 11 kills, and freshman Ciera Borho added 10 kills. Sophomore Samantha Staker had a career-high 38 assists along with five kills, while freshman Megan Bean had five kills on seven errorless attempts and added three total blocks, while junior Audrey Biggs had seven kills and sophomore Audrey Hunter had six kills and hit .714.
UND opened up the game with a slight early lead on the Wildcats. The teams exchanged kills and blocks. The Wildcats got as close as 19-18, but then UND was able to gain just enough emotion to score five of the next six points to give it an early one-set lead.
The second set didn’t fare much better for the Wildcats. They got off to a slow start, and UND capitalized on that opportunity. UND jumped out to a 8-1 lead and never looked back while holding off a late surge from the Wildcats. That gave UND a two-set lead and momentum heading into the final set.
But the Wildcats, like they have done all season, never backed down, and they put together one of their best sets of volleyball this year. After taking an early lead, UND fought back, and the two teams were fighting neck and neck. UND held match point at 24-23, but back-to-back kills from Borho and Biggs gave the Wildcats set point.
UND responded with its own run as it tied the match. Then Bean gave the Wildcats a lead and another opportunity to win the set. Hunter had a kill that prolonged the match, but in the end, UND won the set and the match.
The Wildcats hit an outstanding .515 with 20 kills in a set that had 14 lead changes.
Staker said she felt the team took a big step in the right direction, as it was able to get its system down and get the offense rolling. She also said the players are really developing well as a team.
“Although we didn’t win, it was a good step for us and where we want to be,” she said. “Our offensive was incredible and adjusted well to the defense that we saw. We did a great job finishing, which is really helping us head in the right direction.”
The Wildcats will return to Ogden for their first home game in more than two weeks. They will square off against the University of Montana Friday night at 7 p.m.