Nov. 9, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Despite 10 kills apiece from Elle Brainard and Rachel Orr, Utah State volleyball was dealt a 3-0 (25-27, 18-25, 22-25) loss at New Mexico Saturday afternoon at UNM's Johnson Center.
With the loss, USU is 16-9 overall and 9-5 in Mountain West play, while UNM won its sixth match in its last seven outings in improving to 19-5 overall and 10-4 in MW action. The Lobos swept the season series with the Aggies, who were making their first visit to Albuquerque since 2006, and UNM now leads the overall series, 13-8, winning eight of the last nine and 13 of the last 15 meetings.
Saturday's loss spoiled a return to Albuquerque for USU head coach Grayson DuBose, who was an assistant coach at New Mexico in 2001.
"We just didn't play well enough to win today. We had our chances, but we just have to learn how to play better under stress," DuBose said.
USU was down in all three sets, but closed the gap to tie the score and even took leads late in the sets, including forcing the first set to bonus volleyball, but the Aggies just couldn't seal the deal.
"We did some good things, just not for long enough periods of time. We weren't able to close out when we had the opportunities to do so. We had a chance in set one, and another in set three, but we just need to learn to play better under pressure," DuBose said. "We'll work on that this week in practice and come out this week at home and hope to see everybody at the Spectrum on Thursday."
Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) notched 10 kills on a .348 (10-2-23) attack percentage, while Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.), posted her 10 kills on a .107 (10-7-28) attack percentage, adding five digs and three blocks.
Senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) and senior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah), added seven kills apiece. VanHoff led the USU defense with four total blocks, one solo and three assists, while senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) posted two block assists as USU had six total team blocks. Junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) distributed 31 assists, while fellow junior, libero Ashlan Rogers-Court posted 13 digs and served up the Aggies' lone service ace in the match.
USU hit .161 (37-18-118) for the match, while UNM notched a .217 (46-23-106) attack percentage.
The Lobos had three players in double-digit kills, led by Chantelle Riddle's 12, while Cassie House and Lexi Ross registered 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Hannah Johnson dished out 39 assists, Miquella Lovato logged 15 digs and Skye Gullatt tallied four blocks, as UNM also had six total team blocks.
Utah State started the match with a 9-7 lead in the first set, taking advantage of a pair of UNM errors and the Lobos called a timeout. Out of the break, UNM had another error for a 10-7 USU lead, but the Lobos then reeled off a 10-0 run to take a 17-10 lead and the Aggies called a timeout. New Mexico later led 23-18, before the Aggies closed to 24-21, getting two kills by Orr during the spurt, and the home team took a timeout. Orr and Everett teamed up for a pair of blocks, that book-ended a Brainard kill to knot the score at 24-all and forced bonus volleyball. A kill by Riddle for UNM was matched by a Brainard kill to tie it at 25-all, but another Riddle kill was followed by a kill by Ross to take the first set for the Lobos at 27-25.
In the second set, UNM extended a 10-8 score into a 16-10 lead, but then a Vanhoff and two Lobo errors pulled the Aggies within 16-13. The Lobo lead grew to 21-13 after five unanswered, but Neves and VanHoff posted a block to spark a 4-0 run by USU to close to 21-17. However, UNM scored four of the next five points in the set to take it at 25-18, and the teams went into intermission with the Lobos leading, two sets to none.
Back-to-back blocks by House and Ross gave UNM a 9-5 lead in the third set, but the Aggies rallied and later went on a 3-0 run to tie it at 14-all after a VanHoff kill, a VanHoff and Etimani block, then an Etimani kill, and the Lobos took a timeout. The Aggies had their first lead of the set after a kill by Orr matched her jersey number with USU's score and a 17-16 lead. UNM later took a 22-20 lead, but consecutive kills by Brainard and Etimani tied it the score at 22's, but UNM scored the next three points to close out the set at 25-22 and complete the sweep.
After this road trip, the Aggies 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.
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