It was a rollercoaster of emotions for Southern Utah University Volleyball this weekend as they split the season series against their rivals from the south.
The first match was Friday in Cedar City, where the Thunderbirds were able to squeak away with a 3-2 win late in the last set. It was a thrilling contest for SUU, coming off of an ugly loss earlier in the week to Utah State University.
SUU won the first two sets to start off the night, capitalizing on Dixie State University errors and going on several scoring runs. Stacey Hone led the way for SUU with seven kills across those first two sets.
The home crowd was loud and it looked like the Thunderbirds were about to sweep their opponents, but the Trailblazers would not go down without a fight. Dixie State found their own momentum and scored points in bunches throughout the third and fourth sets.
The two teams traded blows to begin the final set, and neither team looked like they could pull away. Stats cannot describe the excitement in the arena as the teams exchanged volleys back and forth, both squads recording impressive digs to prevent points. SUU hit the target score of 15 first, but a team must win by two points in order to claim victory.
It was a fight that went back and forth, but eventually SUU called a timeout as they faced elimination. The Thunderbirds came out of the break and scored three points in a row, giving them the 21-19 win.
Stacey Hone had a team high 17 kills, while Raegen Ashby led the way defensively with four solo blocks and three assists.
The teams played their second match on Saturday, this time in St. George. Intensity from the night before must have carried over because the future Western Athletic Conference rivals again looked even. SUU jumped out to a 24-21 lead but Dixie State fought back and eventually took the first set 28-26.
The second set was very similar to the first, except this time the Thunderbirds were able to capitalize on their lead and they won 25-21, tying up the match. Unfortunately for SUU, they began to fall apart during the third set as the Trailblazers were able to score 13 of their 25 points just off of SUU errors.
The errors continued in the final set, with 11 more on the way to a Dixie State win. On the night, SUU finished with 33 total errors compared to just 19 from their opponents. The Thunderbirds committed 59 total errors in their two losses during the past week, a stat that they will need to clean up before they enter conference play.
The Thunderbirds’ season continues Thursday, Sept. 23 when they will host Eastern Washington University at the America First Event Center for their first Big Sky matchup of the season at 6 p.m.
Story By: Christian Esparza Sports@suunews.net
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics