Aggie Spikers Sweep Spartans Thursday
Nov. 14, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Hitting over .400 for the fourth time this season boosted Utah State volleyball to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-19) sweep over San José State Thursday in front of another spirited crowd at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU improved to 17-9 overall and 10-5 in Mountain West Conference action, sweeping the season series with SJSU, both in straight sets. The Aggies' win was the third in a row over the Spartans in Logan, and cutting SJSU's lead to 19-15-1 in the all-time series between former Western Athletic Conference foes who are both in their first season in the Mountain West.
"We were excited to play them at home. The last two years I've been here we've only beat them once in each season, so it was good to win both games. We've been working on stuff in practice, fine-tuning things, and I think it's finally paying off," said sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard. "We're all getting our approaches down and the setters are doing an awesome job. It's all clicking, which is nice. We knew they were going to come out stronger in the third set because every team wants to win. We just had to dig deep and find our passion and something had to click."
Utah State's 10-5 MW ledger moves them into a tie for third-place in the league standings with New Mexico, who slid from a second-place tie with Fresno State, USU's opponent Saturday, after UNM fell to 10-5 with a 3-1 loss at league-leader and 10th-ranked Colorado State Thursday night. Fresno State improved to 20-5 overall and 11-4 in MW play with a 3-1 win at Boise State Thursday. The Bulldogs took over sole possession of second-place in the MW standings, setting up a showdown Saturday night between the Aggies and Bulldogs at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
"It's always nice to win, and it's really nice to win in three. We've been able to get these guys twice this year and that's kind of a nice feeling. I think it's a nice team. They have some nice hitters. We kept those guys in check and that helped us out a bit," said USU head coach Grayson DuBose. "It's nice to win. It's nice to put some pressure on those guys early and keep them under stress, then we can play a little looser and relaxed. I wasn't happy with the way we started that third set, but we finished well. There were a lot of positives there at the end."
The Aggies reached double-digit conference wins for the second-straight season with USU's fourth season with double-figure league victories in the last nine years and the 11th season with double-figure conference wins in the 38 seasons of Aggie volleyball.
"The crowd felt good, I love having the Hurd there, utilizing #GetYourHeckleOn. Our kids feed off that and they do a great job. The other sports are coming out and supporting us. It's awesome to have everybody there. That's one great thing about Utah State, student-athletes support student-athletes, and the student body supports the student-athletes," DuBose said.
San José State had its three-match win streak halted in falling to 8-18 overall and 5-10 in MW play.
Utah State logged a .420 hitting percentage (48-11-88) Thursday night, the Aggies' fourth time over .400 this season after not hitting over .400 in a match since 2003. Two of the four times have been against San José State, as the Aggies posted a .416 hitting percentage (47-5-101) in a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 28 in San Jose.
Leading the Aggies' charge Thursday night was junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) with 12 kills, hitting .364 (12-4-22), while sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) logged 11 kills hitting at a .556 (11-1-18) clip. Junior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) added 10 kills on a .296 (10-2-27) attack percentage, while junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) posted eight kills on a .333 (8-4-12) hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) was a perfect 1.000 with three kills in three attempts, while junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) notched four kills on a .667 attack percentage (4-0-6).
VanHoff spearheaded USU's defense with four blocks, while Etimani and Neves posted two apiece, as USU had six total team blocks. With four blocks Thursday, VanHoff has moved up to No. 2 on the Aggies' career block assists list, now with 374 total blocks, passing Ingrid Roth (2002-05) with 372. Denae Mohlman (1997-2000) is the school record holder with 420 career block assists.
Neves dished out 40 assists, as she continues to close in on 3,000 for her career, holding at No. 4 on USU's career assists list with 2,932.
Junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) posted a match-high 14 digs and served up a match-best two service aces in addition to starting several Aggie rallies with precision serving and solid digs. Rogers-Court now has 1,110 career digs, holding at No. 3 on USU's career digs list, as well as climbing to No. 7 on the Aggies' single-season digs list, passing former teammate Laurel Bodily with 397 from 2011 and Christine Morrill from 2008 with 409. Rogers-Court is just three digs shy of her 2012 total at the No. 6 spot.
SJSU was led by eight kills by Hanah Blume, while Megan Powers posted three block assists, as the Spartans also had six total team blocks. Michaela Leonard dished out 34 assists and Cori O'Donoghue collected 10 digs.
USU bolted out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, starting off with an Everett kill, then an ace by Rogers-Court, then a pair of VanHoff kills sandwiched around a SJSU error, and the Spartans called timeout. Etimani and VanHoff teamed up for a block out of the break for a 6-0 Aggie advantage. SJSU closed to 13-9 after a USU service error, but the home team scored four of the next five points for a 17-10 lead. The Spartans sliced the gap to 21-18, before the Aggies scored four unanswered on a Brainard kill, another Rogers-Court ace, then consecutive kills by Brainard and Etimani for a 25-18 set one win.
The second stanza started close with the lead changing hands in the early going, before USU pulled away from a 12-10 score with back-to-back bashes by Brainard for kills, then a block by Brainard and VanHoff for a 15-10 lead and SJSU didn't get within four the rest of the frame. Etimani had kills for USU's final two points of the set, winning the frame at 25-16, as Etimani had the set-sealing kill for the second set in a row.
SJSU came out of intermission with a spark, jumping out to a 6-2 advantage after Powers paired up with teammates for blocks on two-straight points, first with Blume and second with Sydney LaFollette. USU fought back and took a 10-9 lead after a Brainard kill. With the score knotted at 16-all, Brainard and Etimani posted consecutive kills for an 18-16 Aggie advantage. The Spartans called a timeout and scored the next two points out of the play stoppage, but a 4-0 run by USU opened up a 22-18 lead with Etimani getting two kills during the spurt and teaming up with VanHoff for a block and the Aggies sealed the set and the match at 25-19 after a Neves and VanHoff block preceded a SJSU error to end the action.
USU will remain in the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, hosting another former WAC foe, Fresno State on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
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.
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