SAN JOSE, Calif. - Utah State closed its 2017 regular season with a 3-1 victory at San Jose State on Saturday. The win moves the Aggies to 16-14 on the year and 8-10 in the Mountain West, while the Spartans finished the year at 17-12 and 9-9 in league play.
Senior outside Lauren Anderson led Utah State offensively with 23 kills, hitting .463 (23-4-41) and finished the year with 446 kills, ninth all-time in a single season in USU history. She was followed by senior opposite Kayla DeCoursey with 10 kills as Utah State hit .276 (52-17-127) during the match. DeCoursey also logged 11 digs for her second career double-double. Junior libero Tasia Taylor led all players on the back row with a match-high 23 digs, bringing her season total to 525, fourth all-time in a single season in USU history.
Utah State jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first set, capped by back-to-back kills by junior middle Lauren O’Brien and senior outside Rachel Gale-Hammond. SJSU countered with six straight points and tied the match at 8-8, and then used another four-point run later in the frame to break an 11-11 deadlock and take a 15-11 lead. The Spartans maintained the advantage throughout the set and closed the frame with back-to-back points, taking it 25-18.
Utah State trailed for most of the second, but used a five-point run to overcome a 16-12 deficit and take a 17-16 lead, capped by a block by junior middle Kassidy Johnson and freshman middle Bailey Downing. The Spartans tied the set 17-17 on the next rally, but Utah State answered with back-to-back points, including a block by O’Brien and Anderson to take a 19-17 lead. The teams were tied again at 21-21, but the Aggies closed out the set with a four-point run behind errors by the Spartans, a kill by DeCoursey and DeCoursey then combining with O’Brien for a block for the final point.
Utah State led start to finish in the third set, scoring the first three points on kills by Anderson and building a 10-2 early lead. San Jose State came back to tie the set at 12-12 and 13-13, but never did take the lead as another three-point run by the Aggies broke the final deadlock and gave the visitors a 16-13 lead. SJSU whittled the Utah State advantage to one point at 22-21, but USU finished the set with three straight points, including kills by Downing and Anderson, to take the set 25-21.
The fourth set was back and forth as the teams played through 17 ties and seven lead changes. Utah State came back twice late in the set to tie the frame 18-18 and 22-22 behind kills by freshman outside Gabbi Shumway and Anderson. Following the 22-22 deadlock, the team continued to play through ties at 23-23, 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26, before a solo block by Downing and an attacking error by the Spartans gave the Aggies the match, 28-26.
San Jose State was led by Fernanda Vido and Nandyala Gama, both with 20-plus kill performances, finishing with 24 and 23 kills, respectively. Vido also finished the match with a double-double, logging 11 digs, one of three Spartans with double-digit digs, including Luza Andrade with a team-best 15, followed by Jamie Hirai with 12.
The match marked the end of regular season play for the Aggies, but Utah State will now wait to see if an invitation may come from the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, a secondary post-season tournament to the NCAA Championships that is in its first year. NIVC berths will be announced late on the evening of Nov. 26.
Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program on Twitter @USUVolleyball, on Facebook at USUVolleyball or on Instagram at @usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at @USUAthletics, on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on Instagram at @USUAthletics.
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