Despite three players recording double-digit kills on the night, the Nevada Wolf Pack (9-4, 0-1) fell in a tight five set match to the Utah State Aggies (6-6, 1-0) Thursday night to open up Mountain West play.
The Pack took the first set 27-25 before dropping the next two 28-26 and 25-22. Nevada forced the fifth set, taking set four 25-23 before dropping the final frame 15-8. Junior Madison Foley (19), senior Madison Morell (18) and freshman Ayla Fresenius (12) all recorded 10 plus kills on the night. Senior Madison Thorpe logged 13 digs while senior Lyndsey Anderson put up 49 assists.
“Utah State came in and played real hungry tonight,” said head coach Lee Nelson. “I think we’ve been a little run down, so some extra time off this weekend and time to watch this film will be good. This is good timing for a bye for us.”
Nevada took a quick lead in the first set, going up 3-1. The Pack grew its lead to 7-3, but the Aggies went on a run, coming to within one at 8-7. Nevada then expanded its lead back to four, 12-8. In what was already her fifth kill of the match, Foley tallied on another point for the Pack to beat of an Aggie run, taking a 15-12 lead. The Pack continued to lead, but a late Aggie rally tied up the match at 22. The Aggies then went up with a set point, 24-23 before Morell’s kill tied it up at 24. A handle error on the Utah side of the net gave Nevada the lead back, forcing an Aggie timeout. The two teams continued to go back and forth until two critical errors from the Aggies gave up set one to the Pack 27-25. Nevada racked up a total of 14 kills in the first frame.
The second set started much like the majority of Nevada’s do as the two teams exchanged several ties and lead changes. The Aggies hit a shot streak, however, and Nevada was forced to call a timeout, down by five 8-3. Kill from Morell, Foley and freshman Shayla Hoeft brough the Pack back to within one before a monster kill from senior Kathryn Groenweghe tied it back up at 9-9. Nevada then grew the lead to 14-11, giving Nevada another three point lead in the middle of a set. The Pack kept that lead until 16-13, when three straight Aggie points tied it up at 16 a piece. Nevada didn’t let the Aggies charge ahead for a second time, keeping it close all the way to the end. Utah State went on to take set two 28-26 to even up the match.
The third set started off neck and neck as the two teams were tied at five after 10 points. Foley crossed the 10 kill mark for the fifth straight match. The Aggies then jumped out to a 10-7 lead. Nevada came back to within one 13-12 before tying the match up at 14, then taking the lead 15-14 off back-to-back Groenweghe kills. The match quickly tied back up at 18 as the teams continued to exchange points headed toward the end. Utah State snagged a two point lead at 21-19 off a service ace, forcing the Pack to head to the bench to regroup. The home team came out of the timeout with two quick points to tie the third set up at 21 a piece. Utah State retook the lead, however, and took it to the end to claim set three 25-22.
Nevada came out hot in the fourth set, jumping to a 4-1, then 10-4 lead. In all the scoring, Fresenius recorded her 10th kill of the match, just the fifth time the freshman had done that this season. The Aggies then went on a four point run to bring the score to 12-8 before Foley took a free ball back over the net for a kill. The Aggies then came to within two at 13-11, biting at the Pack’s heels. Nevada kept its distance until The Aggies tied it up at 16, then took the lead 17-16 forcing a Pack timeout. The Aggies led by one at 23-22, but an Aggie attack error tied it up at 23. The Aggies committed two more attack errors to give up the fourth set as Nevada tied up at the match with a set four score of 25-23.
The score was all knotted up at three to start the final set, but a block from Fresenius and Groenweghe gave Nevada the 4-3 advantage. The two teams kept it close to 6-6, but the Aggies broke the pattern and took a 9-6 lead before Nevada called a timeout.
Nevada will have Saturday off before hitting the road to take on Air Force next Thursday.