Just a month removed from a five-set thriller in which the Weber State University volleyball team was on the verge of beating a quality Idaho State University team in the Swenson Gym, the Wildcats traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, late Wednesday night with revenge on their minds. However, while the Wildcats made it interesting in the first set, they couldn’t recover from slow starts in the second and third sets, falling in straight sets to the Bengals (25-20, 25-11, 25-14).
For the second-straight match, the Wildcats were held without a player eclipsing 10 kills. Once again, Rebecca Fuchs and Audrey Biggs had seven kills apiece to ace the team. Fuchs hit .222 while adding two blocks and two digs. Sophomore Samantha Staker started as setter and contributed 18 assists.
The Wildcats hoped to get a fast start on the Bengals, who entered the match riding a four-game winning streak and had their eyes on clinching a spot in the Big Sky Conference tournament. The first set went back and forth until the Bengals used an 8-2 run to give them a comfortable seven-point lead.
But the Wildcats weren’t ready to give up. They responded with a run of their own, 4-0, to bring them within three at 22-19, but that was the closest they would get.
WSU head coach Tom Peterson said he saw something in his Wildcats in that first set that they have been missing for many first sets this season. Their ball control kept them in the set and both teams played at a high level. Just a few mistakes took away their momentum and allowed the Bengals to slowly pull away with the first set.
“Our passing was pretty good in the first set,” Peterson said. “At the end, they outdid us with some runs, but I felt like both teams played a really high level.”
Fuchs said the team was ready and primed for an upset, and that she felt WSU played well in that first set, but the Bengals made the adjustments that helped them win the set and the momentum for the rest of the match.
“We came out and gave them a run for their money,” Fuchs said. “We didn’t make the adjustments that were needed as quick as they did. It is just another learning experience. We fought hard and we had our moments.”
Slow starts in the second and third sets once again proved to hurt the Wildcats as they fell behind early and couldn’t recover. The Bengals used runs of 10-2 and 10-1 to put those sets out of reach. Peterson said the team can’t expect to give opponents leads like that and always make a comeback.
“You can’t play a team like that, especially at home, and start out that slow,” he said. “It seemed that we lost our confidence after the first set. We need to work on finishing matches better.”
The Wildcats are looking at their last games as a way to send a message that they are a team that should not be overlooked. Finishing the season on a high note is a priority for the players and the coaches.
“With three games left, we are going to try and win them all,” Peterson said. “We need to continue to play hard, and if we do that, then we can win those games.”
The Wildcats will take on California State University, Sacramento on Saturday. The first serve is set for 8 p.m.
“We are going to go back to practice and work on being a better team, helping each other out throughout the whole match,” Fuchs said. “We are going to find that groove that we had earlier in the season.”