Lumberjacks cut Wildcats down

(photo by Tyler Brown)
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University outside hitter Rebecca Fuchs jumps for the ball in a game against Northern Arizona University. The Wildcats fell to the Lumberjacks in three straight sets on Thursday.

The Weber State University volleyball team returned home hoping to end a losing streak that has lasted nearly a month. Northern Arizona University entered the match having upset the best team in the Big Sky just a week earlier and hoping to build on that success. It was a battle of two teams thirsty for a win. But after the dust settled, NAU swept the Wildcats in three sets, 26-24, 25-17, 25-13.

“We were sick of backing down on our away trips,” said sophomore Rebecca Fuchs. “We didn’t play so hot. . . . I think that game was attributed to more than one thing that we can pick out. We put ourselves in the zone; we wanted to play for each other and play for the win. We tried our hardest and it showed, even if the score didn’t reflect that.”

The Wildcats came out with a look of a team ready to put its losing ways behind it with the combination of Audrey Biggs, Megan Bean and Fuchs. After following behind in the match on two different occasions, head coach Tom Peterson called much-needed timeouts in the exact right moments.

After falling behind 14-9, the Wildcats responded with a 7-1 run, with Whitney Hunt assisting Bean and Fuchs. After a spike from Biggs, they had two chances to walk away with the first set, but let NAU back into the match.

With the set at 24-24, NAU found a way to gain set point and then finished it off with an ace. NAU finished on a 4-0 run to take the set 26-24. Bean finished the set with four kills, and the Wildcats had 16 kills as a team.

“I thought we had a pretty good focus that we weren’t going to give up in the first set,” Peterson said. “We came back four or five times in that particular set. I really like that; it was really nice to see. You could tell that we were learning things and were having success with some different lineups.”

(Photo by Tyler Brown)
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University freshman Megan Bean spikes the ball in a game against Northern Arizona University. Bean had six kills and one block against the Lumberjacks on Thursday.

After losing the highly contested first set, the Wildcats couldn’t get going offensively for the rest of the match. It wasn’t from a lack of effort, as they continued to attack the net and tried to get NAU out of position. Just as the Wildcats were getting momentum, one of their Achilles’ heels of all year appeared to doom them.

Service errors once again were an issue and set the team back in crucial parts of the match. The Lumberjacks relied on those errors to punish the Wildcats, even though the Wildcats statistically beat them.

“That coach has a good team, and they always seem to win,” Peterson said. “When they get a good pass, they move quick and rip it at the net. When we pass well we are a good team, but trying to run your system when you are running is not one of our strengths.”

Fuchs said the team needs to not focus so much on the negatives when preparing for the next serve.

“We all remember that one time when we got blocked instead of when we got a kill,” Fuchs said. “We need to forget about that and make it better to remember the good things that happened. How we bounce back is going to be a defining factor for us. The way we learn together is going to show if we are learning from what has happened.”

Fuchs and Biggs teamed up to contribute 10 kills each, while Fuchs added seven digs and two blocks. Bean, who continues to improve at a position she has been learning this year and never played in high school, added six kills and one block. Hunt continued to distribute the ball to her teammates and add an extra presence around the net with 31 assists and four blocks.

“She (Bean) is learning tons,” Peterson said. “She is in a different position for her; I don’t know even anyone has noticed. She has only practiced that position a few times. It is a learning thing, and mentally she is getting used to what is going on. She is going to be good; she just needs that time to adjust.”

(Photo by Tyler Brown)
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University sophomore Rebecca Fuchs attempts a spike in a game against Northern Arizona University. Fuchs co-led the team with 10 kills against NAU.

The Wildcats will finish off their home stand when the University of Northern Colorado comes to town on Friday. The match will start at 7 p.m. in the Swenson Gym.