ST. GEORGE — Dixie State saw its Senior Day festivities ruined as Fresno Pacific avenged an earlier season loss to the Storm by rallying from two sets down to win their ninth in a row to end their season.
The Sunbirds were the hottest team in the Pacific West Conference coming into the contest. FPU has not lost since that five set loss they suffered to Dixie State back in late October.
Fresno Pacific stiffened its defense in the third set. The Storm attack percentage nosedived to .055 over the next two sets.
“FPU is the top defensive team in the conference,” said Dixie middle blocker Makenzi Bird-Murphey. “Hits that would normally be kills for our hitters could not find the seams today.”
After pulling to within 5-4, the Sunbirds would blitz the Storm with a 20-6 run to erase any doubt of a sweep winning the third set 25-10.
“They made adjustments to our offensive attack after the intermission,” said Dixie head coach Robyn Felder. “We tried to counter with adjustments of our own, but we just did not execute.”
FPU jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead again in set four, but the Storm battled back with a 7-2 stretch to take a two-point lead at 8-6. The Sunbirds then scored five straight points to retake the lead. FPU never gave it back and slowly pulled away to force the deciding set, winning 25-19.
In the final set, the teams battled to an 8-8 tie, but the Sunbirds closed out the set with a 7-1 run to pull out the victory 15-9.
“Our effort was there,” said Felder. “At times momentum swings in the other team’s direction and that results in a loss of confidence for our team. We have to get better at shaking off and battling back to regain momentum and confidence.”
Delayne Daniel recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 19 digs, while Taylor Duryea and Bird-Murphey finished with 11 kills apiece. Frei also recorded a double-double with 47 assists and 14 digs, while Alex Anderson led the team with 25 digs.
Anderson and Bird-Murphey were honored prior to the game as the graduating seniors on this year’s squad.
“I cannot believe what an incredible year this has been,” said Anderson. “We won conference and are going back to the postseason tournament. It has been enjoyable seeing our play progress as a team and and seeing that lead to the success we have had.”
With the loss, DSU closed the 2015 regular season at 19-10, 15-5 in Pacific West Conference play. The Storm won its first PacWest Conference championship last weekend and clinched the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Dixie State now awaits its seeding and opponent in the 2015 NCAA Division II Women’s Volleyball Tournament’s 64-team field to be announced on Monday evening, Nov. 23, at 5:30 p.m. (MT), online at NCAA.com.
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