Aggie Volleyball Pushes Ninth-Ranked Rams To Limits Before Falling In Five Saturday
Nov. 3, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Pushing the ninth-ranked team in the country to the limits, Utah State volleyball had Colorado State on the ropes but couldn't deliver the knockout, as CSU rallied from down two sets to beat USU, 3-2 (25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 25-27, 8-15), Saturday night in a raucous Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The heartbreaking loss snapped USU's season-long six-match win streak, and the Aggies are now 15-8 overall and 9-3 in Mountain West play. CSU improved to a palindromic 21-0 overall and 12-0 in MW action. The Rams, who made their first visit to Logan since 1989, also swept the season series with the Aggies and now leads the all-time series, 19-14, winning the last 18 meetings, including a 3-1 win at Fort Collins on Oct. 10. USU is the only visiting team to win a set on CSU's home court in the Rams' 10 home matches this season.
Saturday's match pitted the top two teams in the Mountain West league only statistics for opponent hitting percentage and blocks entering the match, as Colorado State and Utah State were first and second, respectively, in opponent hitting percentage, while the Aggies were first in league matches in blocks while the Rams were second. The teams didn't disappoint, as CSU had 21 total team blocks while USU had nine total team blocks.
There were also 21 tie scores and seven lead changes.
"It was a grind. I thought it would be. That's a good team. We had our chances for sure. Under pressure they responded just a little bit better than we did, and it made all the difference. We were kind of rolling. We had a nice game plan going in. (Associate Coach) Jeremiah (Larsen) put together a nice defensive scouting report so we had some good opportunities. That darn break always gets us just a little bit. We responded well in the fourth, and we just didn't capitalize when we needed to," USU head coach Grayson DuBose said.
USU hit .139 (62-34-201), a new season-high for attacks, and had 87 digs, the Aggies' second-most this season behind 93 vs. Northern Iowa (8/31) and most in a Mountain West match. CSU logged a .225 (66-23-191), and had 91 digs.
The Aggies had four players in double-digit kills, led by sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) with 15 kills, while senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas), junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) and junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) all registered 13 kills apiece. Etimani and Orr both logged their third double-doubles in a row and continue to share the team-lead with 11, as they both tallied 15 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Hannah Gleason (Las Flores, Calif.) added 10 digs.
VanHoff led USU's defense at the net with five blocks with one solo and four assists, while senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) posted four block assists, while Brainard added three blocks on one solo and two assists.
Junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) dished out 50 assists, her second match in the last three with 50 or more helpers, and the third time this season and ninth of her career. She also passed her sister, Chelsi Neves (2000-01) for the No. 4 spot on the Aggies' career assists list, as she now has 2,818, passing her sister's 2,809 assists. Neves also notched her second double-double in a row and eighth of the season with 11 digs.
Fellow junior, libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) recorded a new career-high with 31 digs, giving her 371 this season and passing former Aggie player and current USU assistant coach, Taubi Neves (2003) for No. 9 on the single-season digs list. Rogers-Court also moved up to No. 3 on the Aggies' career digs list with 1,071 digs.
CSU was led by 16 kills by Marlee Reynolds, while Kelsey Snider added 14 and Adrianna Culbert posted 12 kills on a .522 (12-0-23) attack percentage. Deedra Foss distributed 53 assists, while Jaime Colaizzi collected 25 digs. Samantha Peters posted 12 total blocks on one solo and 11 assists, while Snider added nine, and Culbert and Reynolds registered six apiece.
USU took a 4-1 lead in the opening set on an Etimani kill and later led 11-7 after a Brainard bash for a kill, forcing a CSU timeout. The Rams closed the gap to 15-13 following a Reynolds kill, but USU stretched its lead back to five at 20-15 after a CSU error, prompting another timeout by the visitors. Leading 23-20 after a timeout of the own, the Aggies won the set at 25-20 after back-to-back Brainard kills.
Consecutive kills by Orr gave the Aggies an 11-5 lead in the second stanza, preempting a CSU timeout. The Rams pulled within 12-11 after a Snider kill but USU wouldn't relinquish the lead, stretching it to five at 20-15 after a CSU service error. With the score 24-20 and the home team serving, the teams traded service errors to close the set at 25-21 in the Aggies' favor, giving them a two sets to none lead at the break, marking the first time in a span of 50 matches dating back to November, 2011 that CSU was down 2-0.
After hitting .258 (33-9-93) in the first two sets, the Aggies cooled off from there, starting in the third frame, as CSU took a 12-7 advantage and later had a 19-13 lead after a USU error. A block by VanHoff and Everett drew USU within, 21-15, but that would be the closest they would get, as Culbert captured the set in CSU's favor at 25-18.
VanHoff logged a kill for a 16-13 Aggie advantage in the fourth frame, but the Rams charged back and took a 21-18 lead after an ace from Culbert. Another VanHoff kill earned match point for USU at 24-23, but the Rams rebounded to take the set at 27-25 after consecutive kills by Snider to force a fifth frame.
CSU jumped out to a 7-4 lead after a Peters kill and the Aggies called timeout. Gleason later dug up an attack by the Rams that floated back over to land in on CSU's side for her first official career kill of her USU career and pulled the Aggies to 8-6. However the home team couldn't get any closer and a Peters kill preceded a USU error to end the set at 15-8 and complete CSU's comeback to win the five-set match.
With their four-match homestand complete, the Aggies return to the road, playing at Air Force or Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. (MT) and at New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Noon. The Aggies then return home to host San José State and Fresno State on Thursday, Nov. 14 and Saturday, Nov. 16, respectively, both in 7 p.m. start times.
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.
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.