Entering its last away game for the year, the Weber State University volleyball team was hoping to show how much it had grown and progressed throughout the year as it took on California State University, Sacramento.
The Wildcats couldn’t overcome a slow start as they were swept in three sets (25-14, 25-20, 25-13) on their way to their 15th conference loss of the year. That brings their record to 7-25, 3-15 in Big Sky Conference play. The Hornets improved their record to 14-15, 9-9 in conference play.
Just a month earlier, the two teams had battled in an epic five-set match in which the Hornets left with the win. The Wildcats hoped to avenge that loss and gain some precious momentum as they got ready to go home for the rest of their schedule.
The two outside hitters for the Wildcats, Audrey Biggs and Rebecca Fuchs, both put together solid games. Biggs had eight kills, while Fuchs added seven kills and a remarkable .400 hitting percentage. But the two received little help from their teammates, as the team only had a combined 19 kills. Head coach Tom Peterson attributed a breakdown in ball control as one of the factors for the team not having the chance to spread the ball around to other hitters.
“We gave away a ton of points in the first few sets,” Peterson said. “We couldn’t stop the bleeding, but it all boils down to ball control. We struggled with our first contact with the ball, which didn’t allow us to get the ball to our outside hitters or middle hitters.”
Ball control was one of the reasons the Wildcats were unable to put together a string of runs that would have taken away the momentum from the Hornets.
With a combined 14 ties and five lead changes in the first two sets, the Hornets were able to put together strings of play that stopped the comeback. But in the third set, the Hornets had all of the momentum and finished off the sweep.
Amber Garrett, a defensive specialist, said every match is a learning experience and that the players have to continue to play together and help one another out. She said playing in the Swenson Gym will give them the confidence and crowd support that will help lead them to playing better.
“We had our ups and downs in that match; it’s too bad it ended on a down,” Garrett said. “You have to give credit to them — they were hitting hard. But we need to continue to play hard and together as a team, helping each other. Heading home will be good for us; we are comfortable at home. We practice there . . . and the fans are great.”
Even after a rough road trip, Peterson agreed with Garrett. He said he thinks his players will gain confidence as they head home. The Swenson Gym is a place where the Wildcats have found success — not necessarily in terms of wins or losses, but they have played better overall.
“I think we have a home court advantage,” Peterson said. “The fans bring a great atmosphere to Swenson Gym. The girls are motivated to do their best, and we are going to win these last two matches. We can win every match at home this next week.”
The Wildcats will host Portland State University and Eastern Washington University on Thursday and Saturday night in the Swenson Gym. The first serve will be at 7 p.m.