(Source: Mike Baldino)
University of Northern Colorado volleyball player Merideth Johnson sets the ball in a game against Weber State University. WSU won the game in five sets, ending a seven-game losing streak.

After one of the toughest starts to the Big Sky Conference the Weber State University volleyball team has seen in recent years, the Wildcats finished off their four-game road trip Saturday night as they battled the University of Northern Colorado.

After falling behind 2-1 after three sets, the Wildcats pulled together to win the next two sets and win the match (3-2, 24-26, 25-23, 15-25, 25-21, 15-10). It was the first time they have beaten UNC since 2008.

The Wildcats entered the match searching for their first conference win, while UNC had one win over a conference opponent and home-court advantage. The Wildcats would not back down, as they entered the match knowing they were playing better as a team, especially with ball control.

Sophomore Rebecca Fuchs led the Wildcats with 17 kills, seven digs and five blocks, while junior Audrey Biggs contributed 16 kills, and freshman Ciera Borho hit a career-high 14 kills, seven digs and three blocks.

Coach Tom Peterson said he was happy with the way the outside hitters were able to capitalize on great ball movement. He said he was excited to get the win but knew the team could improve in certain areas of the game.

“I don’t think a coach is ever satisfied, as we left points on the board,” he said. “But I will always be happy with a win. We struggled a bit with serving tonight, but we had three outside hitters who had double-digit kills. That is a great sign for us.”

Freshman Samantha Staker, who has been rotating positions early on the year, had another great game, registering a career-high 45 assists. Sophomore Audrey Hunter pitched in seven kills to lead the Wildcat comeback.

Freshman Megan Bean said she was excited to get her first Big Sky victory as a Wildcat, but was grateful that her teammates were supportive and had her back.

“Even though we struggled, I feel like we were good at making adjustments and that went well,” Bean said. “I played pretty well, but my teammates were there to pick up my slack so we could get the victory.”

Freshman Tanisha Langston said she was equally excited and agreed that it was a team effort that led to victory.

“Our serves were struggling a bit at first, but we pulled together as a team,” Langston said. “We knew that we could do it.”

In the first set, UNC was able to capitalize on the eight service errors of the Wildcats. UNC won the set even though it was outhit 18-10.

The second set was all Wildcats, as they opened up with a 17-11 lead and never looked back to even the match. Once again the Wildcats came out swinging in the third set, but the UNC offense was just too much as it coasted to a 10-point win.

When backed against the wall, the Wildcats have shown courage this year and played some of their best volleyball. That was once again showcased in this match, as they were able to even the match with terrific play by Fuchs, Borho and Biggs. Those three propelled the Wildcats at the end of the set.

Heading into the fifth set, the teams played to a stalemate until the teams switched ends. Then the Wildcats took control with a 4-0 run by the duo of Biggs and Hunter. That put the set and match out of reach; the Wildcats completed the comeback to win 3-2.

Peterson said that getting their first win is going to benefit the players a lot, especially in the fact that they can relax and focus on winning more games.

“It is a big relief; we can relax and get some pressure off of us,” he said. “The teams that we play in the coming week are going to play better; we will just need to match their intensity.”

The Wildcats will return home for matches on Friday and Saturday, when they will host the University of Montana and Montana State University. The matches will start at 7 p.m. in the Swenson Gym.

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