LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Utah State outside hitters combined to collect 45 of the Aggies’ 56 total kills in a 3-1 victory over UNLV on Thursday night. The victory moves the Aggies to 3-0 in league play, its best start in the Mountain West in school history, and 11-4 overall.
“Road wins are valuable, anytime you can go and pick one up on the road it really makes a difference in the long run,” head coach Grayson DuBose said after the match. “UNLV is a hard place to play.”
Senior opposite Kayla DeCoursey led the way for the Aggies, matching a career high with 17 kills and hitting a blistering .567 (17-0-30) with five digs, three blocks and two service aces.
“I thought Kayla played fantastic,” DuBose said. “She took what the block gave her and hit with range, hit off hands and hit seams and did a really nice job.”
Senior outsides Lauren Anderson and Rachel Gale-Hammond followed with 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Anderson recorded her third consecutive double-double after logging 13 digs and was joined by junior setter Kassidy Johnson with her second double-double in three matches with a 49-assist, 18-dig performance. Junior libero Tasia Taylor led both sides with a match-high 23 digs, her seventh match this season with 20 or more digs.
Overall, Utah State hit .286 (57-15-147) during the night and logged 12.0 blocks, the second-best blocking performance by the Aggies this season. UNLV finished the match hitting .143 (47-25-154) and recorded 6.0 blocks.
“Our block did a nice job tonight as well,” DuBose said. “Bailey (Downing) and Lauren (O’Brien) did a nice job and our wing blockers on the left side (Lauren Anderson/Rachel Gale-Hammond) did a really nice job defending the slide.”
Utah State used a nine-point run in the first set to overcome a 10-6 deficit and take a 15-10 lead behind kills by Gale-Hammond and freshman middle Bailey Downing. The Aggies used another 5-1 run late in the set to take their first set point, 24-17 behind errors by the UNLV attack. A final kill by DeCoursey wrapped up the set for the Aggies, 25-18.
The teams battled through seven ties in the second set until Utah State broke the final deadlock at 15-15 with back-to-back kills from Gale-Hammond and DeCoursey to take a 17-15 lead. The Aggies then outscored the Rebels 8-2 down the final stretch to take the set, 25-17, punctuated by a kill from Anderson.
The teams worked through five lead changes and 11 ties in the third set as UNLV took its first set point at 24-23, only to have Utah State come back and tie the match at 24-24 behind a kill by Gale-Hammond. However, the Rebels answered with a kill and then capitalized on an USU attacking error on the next rally to take the set, 26-24.
Utah State jumped out to 6-1 lead in the fourth set, capped by a kill by junior middle Lauren O’Brien and maintained a winning margin of at least two throughout the frame. A kill from Anderson gave the Aggies set point at 24-18 and an ensuing attacking error on the next rally gave USU the match, 25-18.
UNLV was led offensively by freshman outside Mariena Hayden with 16 kills. Hayden finished the night with a double-double after collecting 12 digs, second on the team to the Rebels’ libero Leka Kiner-Falefa with 22. Senior middle Ashley Owens led the UNLV block with five.
Utah State will remain on the road for its next match, facing New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., at noon on Saturday.
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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