Sept. 28, 2013
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Paced by hitting over .400 for the third time this season with a .416 Saturday night, Utah State volleyball swept San José State, 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-17), at SJSU's Event Center. Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr's match-high 14 kills led three players in double-digit kills, leading Utah State to its 200th all-time conference win.
With the win, USU improved to 9-4 overall and 3-1 in Mountain West Conference action, while SJSU slid to 3-8 overall and 0-2 in MW play. USU and SJSU were in the Western Athletic Conference together before departing for the Mountain West together this summer. The win snapped a two-match losing streak at SJSU for the Aggies, winning two of the last three meetings overall and cut the Spartans' lead in the all-time series to 19-14-1.
"I thought our team did a really nice job with the scouting report tonight," USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. "We wanted to really target a few things offensively and defensively, and from the looks of both of those numbers in the box score, I think we did that."
The Aggies' .416 attack percentage came on 47 kills with only five errors in 101 attempts. Junior outside hitter Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) posted 14 kills while senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) and sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) notched 10 kills apiece. Etimani's 10 kills came on a new career-high attack percentage at .500 (10-0-20), while Brainard hit .417 (10-0-24). Senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) added .667 (4-0-6), while junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) had a perfect 1.000 attack percentage with two kills in her lone two attacks, while dishing out 41 assists.
"Paige did a really good job of distributing the ball and our hitters did a great job tonight, Alyssa hit .667, Tumua hit .500, Elle hits .417 and Kaitlyn was at .385, so those were all great numbers. It was a really good job of distributing the ball by Paige tonight," DuBose said.
Entering this season, USU had not hit .400 or better in a match since 2003, but the Aggies have now topped the .400 mark three times this season, hitting .463 against Liberty on Sept. 14 and Saturday was the second time hitting .416, also doing so against Weber State on Sept. 10.
"This spring we placed a big emphasis on working on improving Paige's location and we really dialed in on that and it has just carried over to this fall. We're locating the ball very well and we're making solid shots. We are also making smarter shots. We're minimizing our errors, and to only have five percent of our swings be errors tonight is really low for us. Usually, we think if we're around 13 or 14 percent, it will keep us in matches, but if we're at five percent, that is a really good chance for us to win the match."
USU's defense limited SJSU to a .276 (42-15-98) attack percentage, as the Aggies had six total team blocks.
Orr was one dig shy of her seventh double-double of the season, while Etimani recorded seven digs and junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) added six digs. Rogers-Court and Orr served up a pair of service aces each.
In addition to leading the Aggies' offense, Orr led the USU blocking attack with four total blocks, including a career-high two solo and two block assists. Everett posted three blocks while Brainard logged two.
SJSU was led by Lauren Jacobsen with 12 kills while Michaela Leonard tallied 34 assists to go with 10 digs, while Sarah Griest and Tyanna Roy posted one block assist each.
Orr tallied a kill to open up a 10-6 lead for the Aggies in set one. An SJSU error gave USU a 15-11 lead at the media timeout and later another Spartans' error gave the Aggies a 20-15 advantage and SJSU called a TO. A Brainard bash for a kill put USU ahead, 23-19 and SJSU called its second and final timeout of the set. The Aggies later took the set at 25-21 after another Spartans error.
In set two, the Aggies jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind the serving of Rogers-Court, getting an ace and two Brainard kills. Orr posted a block and later a kill as the Aggies doubled-up the Spartans at 10-5, and she later pounded her 10th kill of the match to give USU a football score lead at 21-14. To complete her versatility and control of the second set, Orr served up an ace to seal set to at 25-15.
The third set was close in the early going with USU taking a 9-7 advantage after a Brainard kill, and the lead remained at two at 15-13 at the media timeout after a kill by Orr. Leading 17-14, the Aggies put the set and match away with an 8-3 spurt, started by an Orr kill and freshman outside hitter Kayle Kamalu (Kaysville, Utah) sealed the set and match win with a kill, marking the second time that the freshman has hit the match-winning kill.
The Aggies return home to open a two-match homestand, starting by hosting New Mexico on Thursday, Oct. 3 and then taking on Air Force on Saturday, Oct. 5. Both matches start at 7 p.m. (MT) at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State volleyball tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Fans can also follow the Aggie volleyball program at twitter.com/USUVolleyball, on facebook at facebook.com/USUVolleyball or on instagram at instagram.com/usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics.
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