When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and the Weber State University volleyball team showed its toughness Thursday night against the Bengals of Idaho State University, falling to ISU in five sets. WSU entered the match having lost three in a row, while ISU had won two of its last three.
In front of a rowdy crowd in the Swenson Gym, WSU made ISU work for every point it earned. But eventually, ISU pulled away in the fifth and final set to vanish WSU’s upset bid, winning 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-8.
WSU was once again led by junior Audrey Biggs and sophomore Rebecca Fuchs up front, as they both had 14 kills, while Fuchs contributed eight digs. Freshman Megan Bean came up big in key moments, leading the team in blocks with eight, while sophomore Audrey Hunter added seven blocks and plenty of energy and height. Sophomore Whitney Hunt continued her good form as the offense ran through her and her 44 assists, 11 digs and four kills.
Coach Tom Peterson said he was happy with the players’ performance, as they were able to play in their system and deliver great volleyball for a longer period of time.
“I thought we played better for longer periods of times against a good team tonight,” Peterson said. “I thought we frustrated them with some things we did, but they came back and finished in the end. We took some steps forward tonight, but we still have to play better. We have to learn to do the things that can get it done and not make mistakes under pressure.”
Peterson said that, with that improvement, there were also things that may have stopped the team from winning the match in the fourth or fifth set. Mistakes changed the momentum as the game went on; ISU fed off of those to get itself back into the game.
“We frustrated their top three hitters for most of the match,” Peterson said. “We just have to learn to keep doing those things that get wins. ‘When your enemy is making mistakes, don’t get in their way’ is a quote from the movie ‘Moneyball.’ We get in our own and we get in their way as well; missed serves was that for us tonight. But we were competitive and had them worried for most of the match.”
Biggs was the main focus of the attack during the stretch when the Wildcats dominated ISU, knowing the right side of their defense didn’t have the height the other side did. Biggs hit .258, and had a crucial kill at the end of the third set that separated the two teams.
“We have to figure out how to finish, but we are going to come back harder next time,” Biggs said. “They made a lineup change, then we stuck to our game plan. We took advantage of attacking the right side that had shorter blockers. We ran that until they stopped us. We had great passing tonight.”
Bean had a great game at the net, affecting the ISU attack and getting the Bengals out of rhythm early on in the set. She was a force in the second set alone, as she contributed to the six blocks, compared to zero for ISU.
“I feel like I stepped up my game and improved on my serving, which was good,” Bean said. “I was on time for my sets, which was good because I was able to connect with Whitney (Hunt) and get some kills. I love blocking, it is fun, but my teammates helped me out as well because they had blocks as well. I feel like we are improving every day in practice.”
The Wildcats will get back to the court hoping to end their four-game losing streak as they host California State University, Sacramento in the Swenson Gym at 7 p.m. on Friday.