Nov. 10, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Utah State volleyball captured its first-ever Western Athletic Conference regular-season title Saturday, despite a 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-21) loss to San Jose State at Spartan Gym.
With the loss Utah State falls to 19-8 overall and 14-3 in Western Athletic Conference action. Both UTSA and New Mexico State hold 12-5 records with only one match to play and cannot catch the Aggies. San Jose State is 13-14 overall and 9-8 in WAC play with the win.
This is the first WAC regular-season title for the Utah State, adding to the Aggies' WAC Tournament title won in 2010. USU's last conference title was winning the Eastern Division of the Big West in 1999 under Tom Peterson. Current USU head coach Grayson DuBose was an assistant on that team, and has now been a part of USU's last two conference titles.
Utah State volleyball now joins the soccer team as WAC Champions this season. USU had its eight-match road match and six-match overall win streak halted with the loss to the Spartans Saturday night.
The Aggies were led by senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah), who had 12 kills and seven digs in the match. Sorensen's 12 kills leaves her one shy of the USU top 10 career kills list as she now has 862 while Niki Conner (1995-98) has 863 kills for the No. 10 spot. Sorensen also posted two block assists, giving her 268 career block assists, breaking into USU's top 10 career block assists list, tying for No. 9 with Melissa Schoepf (1997-2000).
Senior outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah) added seven kills and a team-high 12 digs in the loss.
Sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) also dished out 24 assists, leaving her with 1,003 assists on the season, putting her over the 1,000 assist milestone, as the benchmark has now been achieved 16 times in school history and Neves becomes the ninth different player to accomplish the feat. Neves also added eight digs in the three-set match.
Redshirt-freshman middle blocker Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) had five blocks against the Spartans, giving her 145 this season which keeps her eighth on the single-season block list. Brainard now has 139 block assists which places fourth on the single-season list.
San Jose State was led by 14 kills from Mary Alice O'Reilly, and 11 from Krista Miller. Kiely Pieper had a match-high 17 digs in the win.
In the first set, the teams kept things tight with the Aggies tying the score at 7-7 after a Sorensen kill. Eventually, the Spartans took a 21-20 lead and didn't look back. The set ended on a Utah State service error.
Utah State took a 2-0 lead in the second set with two points off of serves by freshman defensive specialist McKell Staheli (Pleasant Grove, Utah). USU won three-straight points on senior setter Kassi Hargrove (Reno, Nev.) serve to stretch their lead to 6-2.
San Jose State used a run of its own to tie the score at 10-10. Neither team took more than a two-point advantage throughout most of the set. With the set tied at 24-24, a Samantha O'Connell kill gave the Spartans a 25-24 lead, and SJSU took the second set, 26-24, after a USU attack error.
Utah State once again took the early lead in the third set, jumping out to a 3-1 lead after White kill. From that point the match remained close like the prior two sets. USU would eventually take a 15-13 lead after blocks by freshman outside hitter Candace Richins (Kaysville, Utah) and Brainard, but San Jose State was not done. The Spartans took a 19-16 lead after an O'Connell kill. USU could not close the gap, as SJSU won the third set and the match 25-21 with an ace by Hanah Blume.
The Aggies will now return home to host Texas State on Wednesday, Nov. 14 in the Aggies' final home match. It will be Senior Night as USU will be honoring its three seniors: Kassi Hargrove, Shay Sorensen and Josselyn White.
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.
USU volleyball action can be followed live on the Internet with live stats available through the "GameTracker" link at www.UtahStateAggies.com. Aggie volleyball home matches are also streamed online by clicking on the "Watch Live" link at www.UtahStateAggies.com. There is a Utah State All-Access Monthly Subscription for $9.95 and a Utah State All-Access Yearly Subscription for $79.95.
Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program at twitter.com/USUVolleyball or on facebook at facebook.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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