Another lip-biting match at Dixie State University’s Student Activity Center drew a crowd of over 250 fans to watch DSU women’s volleyball team dominate Dominican University of California.
It took all five sets, but the women came out on top against Dominican, which is an 0-2 team in conference. Dixie pulled out the scores of 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-17 and 15-6.
“We tried focusing on taking early control and ultimately not focusing on the error,” said sophomore libero Haylee Wilkes, an English major from Salt Lake City. “Our energy on the court was key as well.”
The first period win was due greatly to the solid blocks by senior outside hitter Shannon Young, junior middle blocker Kristin Heywood, and sophomore setter Shelby Sorenson on the net. Dominican trailed close behind in its points. The win was taken easily by Dixie, setting high expectations for the rest of the game.
But those expectations faltered in the second set.
Nine points in and the Red Storm seemed to be on track for another easy win, until Dominican hit back with a rally that gave it eight consecutive points and the lead. The accuracy of the hitters wasn’t enough to pull up the points that would put them ahead of Dominican.
Despite the tie, the Storm were producing jaw-dropping recoveries from bad rallies that, for certain, looked like they would fall out of bounds or get blocked onto their side of the net.
“We came out of the match with more digs,” Wilkes said. “They were statistically the No. 1 digging team in the conference and the No. 2 team (in the conference). It was our goal from the beginning of the game to out-dig them. We knew it was going to be a battle of defense for both sides.”
The Red Storm had to take the win in the fourth period to beat Dominican. Just like the eight-point strike Dominican had in the second game, Dixie produced a seven-point streak coming out of a timeout.
Dixie defense dominated the fifth set, keeping the ball out of their territory and hitting another consecutive seven-point run, which ended the game 15-6.
“When you know your team can make up for what you can’t do, it’s easy to play with confidence and cohesion on the court,” Wilkes said. “I look forward to protecting our undefeated record in conference and playing with this team that I love.”
The team also brought heat, a pumped up crowd, and edge-of-your-seat anticipation in its game against Fresno Pacific University Saturday.
After all five games and a roaring crowd of more than 300 spectators, Dixie State defeated Fresno Pacific in Dixie’s first victory over a ranked opponent in the school’s history.
Both teams fought for the lead in the first set. The Red Storm stayed close behind the Sunbirds, closing the match within three points. Ten minutes in, Dixie called a timeout with a 15-18 score. Dixie planned a strategy to push ahead of Fresno.
“It took game one for us to adjust to the tempo of Fresno,” head coach Robyn Felder said. “They run a lot higher of a tempo than we do, so our blocks were early and we were out of system quite a bit.”
Under the pressure of plays slipping up, Dixie consistently recovered and used the Sunbirds’ errors to its advantage.
Fresno’s tall front line blocked its way against the Red Storm offense, taking the first win of the game 25-19.
Dixie had a stronger mindset at the beginning of the second period. It maintained a three-point lead by attacking spikes at the Fresno defense, eventually playing for game point at 24-14. Fresno squeezed in five more points until Dixie took its first win.
Some spectators in the crowd believe the way the crowd cheers during the game impacts how the teams play.
“If we are roaring and supporting, then the crowd is having fun while the girls on the court are getting pumped up to play,” said Caleb Baldwin, a sophomore communication major from Ogden. “Fresno was definitely shaken by our cheering, and it most likely helped the Dixie girls dominate in the end.”
The third set was the real game changer as Fresno took notes of Dixie’s strategy and spiked its way to match the plays one point at a time. Sophomore setter Shelby Sorenson’s sets, and the resulting serves and attacks helped turned the game around for the Red Storm as they cruised to another win.
Felder was impressed by the way all of the women played but could not highlight just one player.
“I feel like all the girls contributed in so many ways,” Felder said. “As far as offense goes, Shannon Young, Maddie Rex and Kendahl Weiland were solid thanks to stellar setting by Shelby Sorenson. Defensively, Weiland and Makenzi Bird were a huge force for us as well.”
Retaliation came quick for the Sunbirds in game four. The score was 3-3 within the first minute until an advantage showed itself to the Red Storm. Fresno kept bumping and setting the ball too high, making it bounce off the ceiling and out of the player’s reach.
Although game four ended in Fresno’s favor, Dixie had no intention to crack under the pressure and plowed its way to its final win, scoring 15 against Fresno’s 11 points.
“I told the girls before the game that we needed everyone on the court to be a producer,” Felder said. “They came together, trusted each other and battled. It was a great win for this program.”
DSU hosts Azusa Pacific University, a 3-0 conference team, Saturday at noon in the Student Activity Center.