Dixie State opened the 2018 season by splitting a pair of thrilling five-set matches at the Northwest Nazarene-hosted Fairfield Inn and Suites Invitational on Friday at the NNU Johnson Sports Center. DSU (1-1, 0-0 RMAC) saw a 2-1 set lead disappear in a tough five-set loss to its former Pacific West Conference foe Biola in the first match of the day, while the Trailblazers rallied from a two-set deficit to stun the host No. 19 Nighthawks, 3-2, in the nightcap.
In the opener, DSU blitzed the Eagles in the first set by a 25-16 count, scoring 14 of the match’s first 20 points on its way to a quick 1-0 lead. BU squared the match at a set apiece with a 25-22 result in the second frame, but Dixie State countered with a hard-fought 27-25 win in set three to take a 2-1 advantage. Biola again pulled even with a 25-19 set four win and led 14-12 late in the final frame, but the Trailblazers erased two match points to knot the stanza at 14-14. However, the Eagles went on to score four of the final six points to escape with the win.
Sophomore Megan Treanor connected for a team-high 16 kills in her DSU debut to lead the Trailblazers, while senior Malary Marshall collected 13 kills and a game-high tying six blocks and junior newcomer To’a Faleao-Baich tallied 12 kills. Sophomore setter Jordyn Nelson posted a double-double with a game-high 31 assists and 12 digs, while senior libero Sid Brandon had 19 digs and five assists.
Dixie State hit .164 in the match, though the Trailblazers were doomed from the first set on as DSU hit just .131 after it posted a .360 clip in the opening stanza.
Biola hit .213 for the match and had three players tally double figures in kills, led by Hanna Van Warmerdam with a game-high 18 kills.
Against NNU, the Trailblazers found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole vs. the ranked Nighthawks as NNU (0-2) claimed the first two sets by matching 25-22 scores. Dixie State bounced back with a 27-25 win in set three and raced out to an early 6-1 advantage in the fourth frame, but Northwest Nazarene rallied to knot the stanza at 10-10 and eventually wrestled the lead away at 14-13. DSU then countered with a decisive 12-3 run to close out the set, 25-17, and square the match at 2-2.
The Trailblazers maintained the momentum to start the deciding fifth set as they scored five of the first seven points and led 8-5 at the switchover. NNU managed to trim the deficit to 8-7, but DSU went on to outscore the Nighthawks, 7-2, the rest of the way to complete the comeback win, 15-9.
Treanor led the way with a game and career-high 19 kills and hit .364 overall, while Faleao-Baich added 11 kills and Marshall chipped in 10. Nelson tallied 26 more assists, and Brandon collected 13 digs.
DSU hit .252 in the match, including a .538 clip in the fifth set. Meanwhile, the Trailblazer defense limited NNU to a .183 hitting night, which included a paltry .097 percentage in the final three sets. Dixie State tallied 12.0 total blocks, with Marshall collecting six block assists and Treanor adding two solo stops.
The last time Dixie State rallied from a 0-2 deficit to win a match came at home last season vs. Fresno Pacific, while the last time the Trailblazers achieved that feat on the road also came last year in a 3-2 win at Central Washington.
Dixie State will wrap up play at the NNU tournament Saturday with a date against Cal State Monterey Bay beginning at 11 a.m. MT.