LOGAN, Utah - Utah State volleyball split results on the final day of the USU Invitational, losing to Montana State 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 27-29, 25-19) in its Saturday opener before posting a 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-19) victory over UC Santa Barbara in the tournament finale.
Senior outside Lauren Anderson led the Aggies offensive in each game, recording 18 kills against MSU and 12 kills against UCSB, while hitting .400 (12-2-25) against the Gauchos. Anderson was one of two Aggies that recorded a double-double during the matches, logging 15 digs against Montana State. Redshirt freshman setter Jaysa Funk tallied her second double-double of the weekend with a 30-assists, 10-dig performance in the nightcap against UCSB.
Junior libero Tasia Taylor continued her streak of double-digit dig outings, totaling a team-best 16 against Montana State and 19 against the Gauchos.
In the loss to the Bobcats, Utah State was its own worst enemy, committing 33 attacking errors, nine service errors, two blocking errors and two ball handling errors. Overall, Montana State finished with 72.0 points during the match with more than half of the total coming from USU miscues.
“That’s a lot of points to give someone,” head coach Grayson DuBose said after the match. “It’s all about being consistent overtime, and we weren’t. We would get a little energy going and then something would happen and it would affect the next couple of points, so we have to have a short memory on this thing because you come back in a couple of hours and do it again.”
Utah State hit .000 (11-11-39) in the first set and .040 (8-7-25) in the second as Montana State opened with a two-set lead, taking the opening frames 25-20 and 25-18, respectively. The Aggies bounced back in the third and opened the set with a 2-0 advantage behind back-to-back MSU errors. The Aggies continued to lead until the Bobcats tied the match at 17-17. An Anderson kill and MSU attacking error broke the tie, but Montana State countered with a three-point run to take its first lead of the set, 20-19. The teams then went back and forth down the stretch, battling through five set points, including a 28-27 lead for the Aggies. A final kill by Anderson gave Utah State the set, 29-27. The match slipped away from the Aggies in the fourth set as Utah State hit .031 (8-7-32) to Montana State’s .212 (14-7-33), leading to the 25-19 final for the Bobcats.
USU came back in the tournament finale and posted the only three-set sweep during the weekend with its 3-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara. Utah State hit .276 (36-7-105) during the match with Anderson and junior middle Lauren O’Brien both hitting over .400 as O’Brien hit .417 (5-0-12). USU trailed in the first set as UCSB opened with a 2-1 lead, but overcame the deficit with a four-point push to take a 5-2 advantage and never trailed again.
The Aggies closed the first set with back-to-back points behind a Gaucho attacking error and a kill from senior middle Carly Lenzen to take the frame, 25-20. Utah State used another four-point run at the end of the second set to take it 25-15 and closed the set with blocks from senior outside Rachel Gale-Hammond and freshman middle Bailey Downing, and an Anderson kill. The teams were tied in the third, 17-17, but Utah State ended the set with an 8-2 run, including kills by Anderson and O’Brien to take the match, 25-19.
“It’s nice to get back on the right side of the ledger, of course,” DuBose said. “More importantly, we played well, kind of did what we do and we did a nice job of it. We got some aces with some good stuff going, we got those guys in trouble just a little bit. Seven errors and 105 swings, that’s a pretty nice percentage.”
In other action, Montana State captured the USU tournament team title with a 3-2 (26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-11) victory over Pacific in the third match of the day. The Bobcats were led by sophomore outside Evi Wilson with 10 kills. The Tigers were led by sophomore outside Emily Baptista with 25 kills. Overall, Montana State hit .129 (49-26-178) and Pacific hit .141 (67-40-191). Defensively, the Tigers were led by sophomore libero Allyssa Rizzo with 29 digs. Pacific was led by senior libero Katrin Gotterba with 21 digs.
Pacific defeated UC Santa Barbara 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 25-14) in the first match of the day. The Tigers were led by sophomore outside Emily Baptista with 23 kills, while the Gauchos were led by redshirt sophomore outside Lindsey Ruddins with 20. Overall, Pacific hit .320 (63-22-128) and UCSB hit .182 (43-21-121). Defensively, Pacific was led by senior libero Katrin Gotterba with 17 digs and UC Santa Barbara was led by junior libero Emilia Petrachi with 13.
Following the tournament, Lenzen and O’Brien were named to the all-tournament team. Lenzen finished the weekend with 20 kills, hitting .306 (20-5-49), and totaled 12 blocks, six digs and two service aces. O’Brien led the USU block with 15 during the three-game stretch and also was the most efficient attacker, hitting .308 with 17 kills on 39 attempts with only five errors.
Utah State will be back in action on Tuesday night, hosting Utah Valley in the first in-state contest for the Aggies this season. The match against the Wolverines will begin at 7 p.m., on Kirby Court inside the Wayne Estes Center.
Tickets for the season can be purchased online at utahstateaggies.com, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum ticket office or by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program on Twitter @USUVolleyball, on Facebook at USUVolleyball or on Instagram at @usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at @USUAthletics, on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on Instagram at @USUAthletics.
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