A short road trip down to Cedar City set the scene as the Weber State University volleyball team opened up Big Sky Conference play against the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah University. The Wildcats fell in four sets (20-25, 25-22, 16-25, 24-26), dropping their record to 4-11 and 0-1 in conference play.
In the first set, the Wildcats fell behind 5-0 early before sophomore Rebecca Fuchs ended that run with a kill assisted by sophomore Samantha Staker. The Wildcats kept clawing away at the lead until they eventually tied the set at 11-11. After that point, the Thunderbirds proved to be too much when they scored 14 of the next 23 points, giving them momentum heading into the next set.
The second set was all Wildcats. They were propelled by kills from freshmen Ciera Borho and Katie Harvey. When those two dialed up a combined three kills, it gave the Wildcats an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish. Sophomore Mariah Kahawaii then added two kills of her own, part of a 6-0 run. The Thunderbirds fought back to tie the match at 17-17, and it stayed tied until kills by Fuchs, Kahawaii and freshman Megan Bean put the set out of reach.
The third set was set up nicely for the Wildcats as the two teams were neck-and-neck, the score 10-10, until the Thunderbirds pulled away. Junior Audrey Biggs kept the Wildcats in the match, as she was able to put the ball where the defenders couldn’t reach it. Then the Thunderbirds rolled off four straight points, which was just enough to help them put SUU one set away from winning the match.
The Thunderbirds came out on fire in the fourth set when they jumped to an early 7-2 lead. The Wildcats had a nice run of their own and were able to take the lead 9-8, which they held until late in the set.
While holding a two-point advantage, the Wildcats surrendered four straight points. While facing match point, kills by Kahawaii and Biggs kept the game alive. But the Thunderbirds were too much, and they were able to score two more points to win the final set 26-24.
WSU head coach Tom Peterson had high praise for the way the young team has played during the crazy preseason schedule it had. He said Harvey was a good catch and brings a lot to the team with her athleticism.
“It is always disappointing to lose to a team that you really think you could have beat. It’s could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, really,” Peterson said. “We ran out middle really well tonight. We got Megan Bean back from a knee issue and Katie Harvey has been playing well. We just couldn’t get it to them down the stretch and important moments of the match.”
Fuchs led the team in kills. She registered 11, while Kahawaii and Harvey both pitched 10 apiece. Harvey also had five blocks and a .421 hitting percentage for the match. Staker had another productive match with 27 assists, while junior McKay Tarbox had 22 digs.
Harvey praised her teammates, saying they executed the game plan and ran the plays well.
“I felt pretty good tonight. We passed the ball well,” she said. “I connected well with our setters. Before the game, the coaches explained to us certain things that they wanted us to do, and I feel like we did that pretty well.”
The Wildcats will stay on the road. They will travel next to face the University of North Dakota on Sept. 26 and then the University of Northern Colorado on Sept. 28.