Thunderbird volleyball splits doubleheader weekend

Southern Utah University volleyball was back in action this week with two home games against Western Athletic Conference foes. The Thunderbirds faced off against the Wildcats of Abilene Christian University and the Tarleton State University Texans. 

Oct. 6: SUU versus Abilene Christain University
Thunderbird volleyball swept the Wildcats in three sets, moving up to 3-11 and 2-3 in the WAC. Southern Utah won the first set 25-16. Early on, it was back and forth with neither side giving up. The Thunderbirds went on an offensive barrage leading 8-4 and continued the run leading 14-9 midway through the first set. Abilene Christian came roaring back, trimming the lead to one point. The pace seemed to be in the Wildcats’ corner, but Southern Utah countered with a 10-2 run to take the first set 25-16. 

Southern Utah came out strong in the second set, taking a 4-2 lead. The Wildcats came back with a lead of their own. The Thunderbirds tied the set at six points each and built off the momentum, taking a slim 11-10 lead, Southern Utah took command with a seven-point run to take a 18-11 lead. Two crucial kills by senior Raegen Beeson spelled the end for the Wildcats with the Thunderbirds winning the second set 25-17. Beeson finished with nine total kills in the series. 

The third set started with the Wildcats in the driver’s seat, building an early 8-2 lead. The Thunderbirds kept close through the middle of the set, trailing the Wildcats by three, 15-12. Southern Utah would not go down easy, tying the third set at 17. Macy Short led the Thunderbirds with 32 assists and provided the crucial assists at the end to lead the Thunderbirds to a 25-21 victory. 

Oct. 8: SUU versus Tarleton State University
Southern Utah lost to the Tarleton State Texans in a heartbreaking five sets, causing the Thunderbirds to drop to 3-12 and 2-4 in WAC play. The first set was anyone’s game with both programs going back and forth. Midway through the set, the score was tied at 16 apiece. Both teams exchanged points, and Tarleton found the edge, leading 21-19. All hope seemed to be lost, but a rally from the Thunderbirds gave them the momentum to win the first set 25-22. 

The second set saw the Texans get to a 7-5 lead. SUU would not go down easily, trailing by three 11-8. The momentum for the Thunderbirds folded afterwards with the Texans going on a 6-2 run. Tarleton State controlled the rest of the set, winning 25-19. 

The third set was much of the same story with the Texans dominating, winning 25-15 and taking a 2-1 match advantage going into the fourth set. 

The fourth set was unlike the second and third set. The Thunderbirds started red-hot with a 4-1 lead. Tarleton State answered back and tied the set 6-6. The set was once again tied at 12. A 6-2 run from Southern Utah put them ahead; once again, the Texans were not going away, tying the game at 19 apiece. Two huge kills by sophomore Molly McDermott set the Thunderbirds for victory, winning the fourth set 25-22 and tying the match. 

The fifth set was filled with drama. Southern Utah started with a fury of offense and a 8-5 score. The Texans answered back with six of the seven next points, taking the lead back 11-9. The Thunderbirds scored three points and took the lead back 12-11. The Texans tied it up and survived the close contest with the Thunderbirds, winning the final set 15-13. 

Next up
The Thunderbirds will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 15, as they travel to Huntsville, Texas, to play the Bearkats of Sam Houston State University. The last time both of these programs faced off was over a decade ago, when Sam Houston edged the Thunderbirds 3-2. The match is scheduled to begin at noon. 

Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photos by: SUU Athletics