ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State volleyball team had reached the top of the mountain last Saturday against Concordia University. That win, coupled with Cal Baptist’s loss to Azusa Pacific, put the Red Storm at the top of the Pacific West Conference standings for the first time this season. Wednesday night, DSU helped cement its stay as king (or queen) of the mountain with a 3-1 victory against the Lancers at home, 25-15, 14-25, 25-22, 25-23.
CBU was the preseason pick of the year to win the PacWest, even though the Red Storm advanced further than any other team in postseason play last year. Dixie State started the season poorly (3-7), but have slowly gelled as a team to play championship-caliber volleyball.
“We struggled at the beginning of the year,” said Dixie State head coach Robyn Felder. “We knew we had the talent, but we lacked confidence at the beginning of the year. The girls have come together as a team. They have developed trust in each other and the communication on the court has greatly increased.”
The next three matches will be telling as DSU plays the other two teams picked to finish in front of them (Point Loma and BYU-Hawaii) and Chaminade, which is the only team to beat the Red Storm on its home floor.
“We are now on top,” Felder said. “That is not always a good position to be in. There is a target on our backs. And top to bottom, there are really no nights off in the PacWest. Our next few games are against top-five (PacWest) teams.”
Wednesday night, DSU came out swinging in the first set. The Red Storm quickly jumped to 5-1 behind the service of Taylor Duryea. That lead quickly mushroomed to 14-6, then 23-10, before DSU cruised to a 25-15 set score. Duryea had three kills and two service aces in the set.
The Lancers turned the tables in the second set. They started out with a 5-1 advantage and increased to an 18-11 score. DSU took advantage of some attack errors by CBU to crawl back to 18-14. But after a Dixie State service error the Lancers scored the last six points to close out the set evening the match.
The third and fourth sets were much closer, but both fell the Storm’s direction. The Lancers again started hot, taking a 7-1 lead in the third set. After Felder called a timeout, the Storm were able to slice a couple of points off the lead, but Cal Baptist maintained a 3-4 point edge until the score reached 16-12. DSU scored three straight and then tied the match at 17-17. The teams battled back and forth until the score knotted at 22. Makenzi Bird Murphey got a kill for side out then recorded a service ace to get to game point. Kailey Frei ended the set with a kill.
The fourth set stayed close throughout as neither team built more than a three-point lead. The teams were knotted at 23-23. Brette Anderson got a kill to get sideout. Duryea then closed out the match with a service ace.
“It was really a sloppy match,” said Felder. “We made fewer mistakes than Cal Baptist.”
Individually, Lindsay Jones and Duryea led the team with 14 and 10 kills, respectively. Frei had a match-high 40 assists. Duryea and Frei had three service aces apiece. Alex Anderson and Talia Brown recorded double-figure digs with 14 and 13 respectively. Jones also led the Storm in attack percentage with .367.
“Lindsay (Jones) played very well tonight,” said Felder. “She had some great blocks and she and Tay(lor) Duryea also played great offensively.”
CBU falls to 17-6 overall and 10-5 in the PacWest, two games behind Dixie State. The Storm move to 15-8 overall and 12-3 in conference play. They hold a 1½-game lead over second place BYU-Hawaii. The Storm will try to avenge an earlier loss to Point Loma this Saturday. The Sea Lions are tied with CBU for third place in the conference but beat Dixie State in straight sets on Sept. 19.
Click here for Pacific West Standings. Game time is set for noon at the Dixie State Student Activities Center.
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