Aggie Spikers Sweep Aztecs Thursday
Oct. 24, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani's team-high 10 kills propelled Utah State volleyball to its third win in a row via the sweep and four-straight victory overall with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-23) triumph over San Diego State Thursday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Aggies have won their last 10 sets dating back to Oct. 12 at Wyoming in USU's 3-1 win there, starting its current four-match win streak. Thursday's win boosted Utah State's overall record to 13-7, while improving to 6-3 in Mountain West Conference play. San Diego State, the defending co-MW champion, suffered its third loss in a row and fourth in the last five in sliding to 9-10 overall and 4-5 in MW action.
"We like being at home; it's a comfortable place for us. It's a lot less stress. Being able to get those guys at home is a pretty significant win for us and our program, and where we're headed. They're returning Mountain West co-champions, so we felt really good about that," USU head coach Grayson DuBose said.
Boosted by an enthusiastic, spirited crowd, the Aggies hit .269 (37-9-104), their third match with single-digit errors this season.
"It felt really good to play at home, we've been gone for quite awhile," Etimani said. "Playing against San Diego State is tough because they're really good. They won the conference last year, so it was really exciting to beat them. It felt good. We just focused on a play at a time, forgetting about the past and moving on. The fans were amazing today. I really hope we get to see them all again on Saturday."
Etimani (Richardson, Texas) tallied 10 kills on a .257 (10-1-35) attack percentage. Junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) posted a team-best .438 (8-1-16) attack percentage, pounding eight kills. Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) matched VanHoff with eight kills, hitting at a .353 (8-2-17) attack percentage.
"I have to be pleased, I'm very pleased with our performance tonight. It starts with the receive of the serve. If we can get that, then that allows Paige (Neves) to really distribute. There were moments in the second game when we had a little breakdown, but we got back in and had nice ball control. We were in system more than we were out of system which is always good," DuBose said
Neves (Otto, Wyo.), the Aggies' junior setter, dished out 36 assists, adding five digs, three blocks, one kill and one service ace.
"It felt good to get a big win tonight. It was a big game for us and I felt like we took care of business. We just played our game and were us. Everyone was clicking and that just helped us win. It's always good to have fans here. It boosts our confidence and gets us ready for Saturday, which is another big game for us. We love our crowd and appreciate what they do," Neves said.
Junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) posted 16 digs, leaving her two shy of becoming the fifth player in program history to reach the 1,000 career digs milestone.
Senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah), logged a match-high six blocks, while VanHoff posted four and Neves notched three, as did sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah).
VanHoff's four blocks gives her 360 career total blocks, moving up to No. 3 on the Aggies' career total blocks list, passing Amanda Nielson (2004-07) with 359. With three block assists Thursday, VanHoff now has 331 career block assists, closing in on Nielson at No. 3 on the USU career block assists list. USU totalled 10.5 total team blocks, in limiting SDSU to a .138 (43-26-123) attack percentage. The Aztecs had five total team blocks.
San Diego State was led by Emily Harris with 11 kills, while Johnna Fouch distributed 21 assists, Justine Ricigliano tallied 14 digs and Kaja Sandberg logged three blocks.
USU jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind the serving of Rogers-Court and taking advantage of some early SDSU errors. An Orr kill later stretched the Aggie advantage to 6-1. The Aztecs cut the gap to 13-11 after a USU error, but the Aggies countered with a 5-2 spurt to open an 18-13 lead after another Orr kill. The set ended like it started behind Rogers-Court's serving and a mis-hit by the Aztecs, as Rogers-Court served up an ace for a 24-16 lead and an SDSU error sealed the set in USU's favor at 25-16.
The Aztecs took their first lead of the match at 3-2 in the second set on a kill by Chaiymin Steel. It would be a short-lived lead as the Aggies rallied from down, 9-8, with six unanswered points, with Neves and Everett teaming up for a block to start the spurt and Orr, Everett and Brainard formed a triple-powered block for a 14-9 Aggie advantage. SDSU countered to tie it at 18-18 after a kill from Summer Nash, but USU closed the set with a 7-3 streak, capitalizing on Aztec errors at the start and finish of the spurt to take the second set at 25-21.
Out of intermission, USU opened a 9-5 lead in the third set after an Orr ace and an SDSU error. The same combination of an Aggie ace and an Aztec error, this time behind Etimani's serving, gave Utah State a 16-11 lead. However, SDSU did not go quietly into the dark, autumn night, as the Aztecs rallied to tie the score at 19-all after a kill by Harris. USU won the race to the next six points, as the scoring went back-and-forth, before freshman setter Erica Moscoso (Mission Viejo, Calif.) served up an ace for an Aggie match-point at 24-22, and the Aztecs called a timeout. Out of the break, Sandberg and Fouch teamed up for a block to close to 24-23, but Orr made sure the set didn't go any further with a kill for the set win at 25-23 to complete the win and break out the brooms for the sweep.
Utah State wraps up the first half of Mountain West action and plays the second of its four-match homestand by taking on UNLV on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. UNLV improved to 12-7 overall and 7-2 in MW play with a five-set win at Boise State Thursday night.
Saturday will be USU's Breast Cancer Awareness match, recognizing some selected cancer survivors.
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 who can't make the match can follow along with "Watch Live" and "GameTracker" links at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Utah State volleyball team wants to help by raising money for Logan Regional Hospital Foundations's Breast Cancer Services. Pledges are now being gathered for every dig the Aggies make during their six home matches in October as part of USU's "Dig for a Cure" campaign.
For each dig (a defensive move made to control a spiked ball) the Aggies are asking for a donation of $0.25. If the Aggies record 200 total digs in the six matches, a pledge of $0.25 will result in $50. Half of this donation will go to the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation to assist in Breast Cancer Services while the other half will be used to support the USU Volleyball team. Pledges can be made in any amount and flat donations are also accepted and appreciated. Pledge and donation forms will be available at the matches at the marketing/promotions table on the west concourse of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Any pledge or donation received will enter the fan's name into a drawing which will take place the last home match in October, on Thursday, Oct. 31 vs. Wyoming. Prizes include: T-shirts, volleyballs and team photos. Come cheer on the Aggies during their October matches and keep track of their digs to help them "Dig for a Cure." For more information or to donate, contact USU Assistant Coach Taubi Neves at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-797-2063, or go to: http://bit.ly/RtaUKK.
Fans can also follow the Aggie volleyball program on twitter 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, on facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics, or on Instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.