RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Dixie State volleyball team was able to salvage a victory in the PacWest-GNAC Crossover this weekend.
Dixie started the tournament 0-3 before beating Alaska-Anchorage in five sets for its final game.
“We played some very good teams,” said Dixie head coach Robyn Felder. “Two are nationally-ranked, and the other two are also top caliber and had only one loss apiece when we played them.”
The Storm began the Crossover against the No. 13-ranked Central Washington. The Wildcats jumped out early in the deciding fifth game and Dixie State was unable to recover in a 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 16-25, 27-25, 15-9) heartbreaker.
Edithza Urias led both teams with 22 kills. Nicole Koehler had 14 kills while Makenzi Bird and Kendahl Weiland had 10 kills apiece. Libero Alex Anderson led the match with 26 digs for the Red Storm. Setter Shelby Sorenson also led the match with 56 assists.
A slow start in set No. 5 doomed the Red Storm as they dug themselves into an early 5-0 deficit. Dixie State cut the lead to 12-9 but couldn’t complete the comeback and came up on the wrong end of the five-set thriller, dropping the set 15-9.
The following day the Red Storm would be on the losing end of another five-set thriller (25-19, 22-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-11) against Northwest Nazarene. Dixie then lost to No. 9 nationally-ranked Western Washington in its second match of the day 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17).
The Red Storm suffered from several unforced errors and despite a very good passing game just couldn’t overcome the miscues. The team hit .159 in the first match and improved to .213 in the second.
Against Northwest Nazarene, five players had double-digit kills for the Red Storm. Rex led the way with 15, Urias had 14 while Koehler and Bird each added 11. Weiland delivered 10 kills.
Dixie State again played from behind in the fifth set and was not able to get a lead. DSU tied the score twice but the Crusaders scored back-to-back points to lead 12-9. From there the Red Storm couldn’t recover and came up short 15-11 to drop the five-set match. Trying to pinpoint reasons behind being unable to close out fifth sets Felder said, “I think there have been times when confidence has abandoned us at key points in our matches. Trying to defuse that and get back on track can be difficult.”
The Red Storm could only get one set in its match against Western Washington. After evening the match by winning the second set, the Vikings won the last two sets convincingly to take the match.
Rex and Urias led again with 14 kills apiece vs. Western Washington. Weiland added 10 for the Red Storm.
In Saturday’s match against Alaska Anchorage, Koehler led the match with 17 kills and the Red Storm won in five sets (23-25, 25-14, 25-17, 19-25, 15-9).
“It was good to get the win,” said Weiland. “We came in with the mindset to have fun and to be supportive when someone had an error.”
Koehler’s 17 kills tied for a match-high. Weiland was also force with 14 kills at an efficient .385 clip. She added one solo block. Urias posted 11 kills on the attack for the Red Storm.
DSU held Alaska Anchorage to an .090 hitting percentage and put up 16 total team blocks.
Dixie State reversed course from their earlier deciding fifth sets and raced out to a 6-1 lead. The early run was just what the Red Storm needed to finish off Alaska Anchorage 15-9 and win the match. “Getting that early lead in the fifth set was crucial,” said Weiland. “There is less pressure playing with the lead than playing from behind.”
“We wanted to win more of these matches,” said Felder. “But we stayed with all of these teams. We also got a chance to scout some conference opponents and we are excited and confident with the upcoming conference season.”
Dixie will take a 3-5 record into conference play. After starting the season on the road for two straight weeks Dixie State will open the conference season at home on Friday, Sept. 19, vs. Notre Dame de Namur at 6 p.m.
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