20120915Volleyball (Tyler Brown)-2
(photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University volleyball player Audrey Hunter spikes the ball in a game against Northern Arizona University last season. The Wildcats fell in three straight sets to NAU Saturday night.

Following the match with Southern Utah University on Thursday night, the Weber State University volleyball team continued its road trip to Flagstaff, Ariz., looking to earn its first conference win of the season against Northern Arizona University. The Wildcats couldn’t recover from a slow start, as they fell to the Lumberjacks in straight sets 25-11, 25-15, 25-20, bringing their record to 4-12 and 0-2 in conference play.

The Wildcats had played six games in six days, including that match. The Lumberjacks were coming off a victory over Idaho State University in five sets.

The Wildcats accumulated a great amount of kills as none of the players eclipsed five for the match. Freshman Ciera Borho and sophomores Mariah Kahawaii and  Audrey Hunter led the team with five kills apiece, and the team had 30 over the three sets. Sophomore Whitney Hunt once again led the team in assists with 16, while she chipped in with three digs in the losing effort.

The quickness of the Lumberjacks was too much for the Wildcats as Sydney Kemper and Janae Vander Ploeg led the Lumberjacks to victory with 10 kills apiece. They led the first two sets from start to finish, but the Wildcats wouldn’t go down without a fight. After tying the third set at 12-12, they couldn’t muster up enough momentum to extend the match.

Head coach Tom Peterson gave credit to the Lumberjacks’ game plan and how they went about accomplishing that. As of late, the Wildcats have been trying to run a few different systems, and Peterson said he feels the team is getting more comfortable with every game.

“We couldn’t catch up to their ball control and their speed,” he said. “They were able to get the ball faster to the outside, which made it hard for our blockers to get out there.”

Senior outside hitter Shanae Burgin said she felt that all of the games the Wildcats have played are going to pay off for them later on in the season.

“We didn’t start well, it was a rough start, but once we got going we were able to play with them,” she said. “I think that we have to work harder to play controlled volleyball, and then we will be hard to beat.”

Even though the Wildcats have started conference play with two straight losses, they are confident they can get back on the winning track. Starting the first two weekends on the road makes it hard, but Peterson said he is confident they can get back to their winning ways.

“We have the hardest start to conference . . . as we start the first two weekends on the road,” he said. “Every team has a weakness. If we can get at least one win next week, we will be back in the thick of things.”

Burgin said the inexperience of the team is starting to turn into experience and that the team is starting to turn a corner.

“We have learned that we don’t have any second chances,” she said. “We have to come out and play hard all the time. Also, we need to take care of what is going on our side of the net and execute our system.”

The Wildcats will continue their road trip in search of their first conference win as they travel up north, where they will take on the University of North Dakota on Thursday night and the University of Northern Colorado on Saturday.

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