Aggies split on opening day of Utah State Invitational (with photo gallery)

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Source: CVDaily Feed
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LOGAN, Utah – Utah State women’s volleyball split its opening contests at its home-hosted USU Invitational on Thursday, picking up a 3-0 victory over UC Riverside in the afternoon matinee, but fell, 3-2, to Portland State in the nightcap.

The Aggies were a model of efficiency in the match against UC Riverside, committing just eight attacking errors and tallying 11 services ace. Senior libero Hannah Gleason led the charge behind the service line, tying the school record set in 1994 with seven aces and also led the team with 15 digs.

Senior outside Kaylie Kamalu-Smith paced the offense with a team-best 10 kills, hitting a career-high .417 without an error on 24 attempts. Another senior, setter Erica Moscoso, directed the attack and collected 26 assists and rounded out her afternoon with five digs and three blocks. Her blocks contributed to the first double-digit block performance for the Aggies this season, as USU finished with 10.0, led by junior middle Carly Lenzen with seven (1 BS, 6 BA), and held the Highlanders to a negative hitting percentage (-.050).

Utah State jumped out a 6-1 lead in the opening set, scoring the first four points, and prompting a UCR timeout. The Highlanders only got to within three points of the Aggies during the set and Utah State put the finishing touches on the frame by scoring the final eight points for the 25-12 victory.

Utah State used another strong opening run in the second set, scoring the first seven points, and later took its first double-digit lead at 16-6. The Aggies closed out the set with a 9-1 run, holding the Highlanders to single digits, in the 25-7 victory. USU hit a match-high .333 (9-2-21) during the set and held UC Riverside to its lowest hitting performance of the afternoon, -.280 (5-12-25).

Utah State followed a similar script in the final set, building a 4-1 lead and then extending the margin to double-digits with a 20-10 advantage. Freshman middle Ashley Wesenberg, making her collegiate debut, recorded one of the final kills for the Aggies over the next stretch as sophomore outside Simone Gibeau punctuated the Aggie victory, 25-13, with a kill of her own.

Utah State picked up right where it had left off going into its match with Portland State that night, taking the first two sets and building a 2-0 lead. However, the Aggies then dropped close contents over the next two sets and ultimately fell in the fifth, despite a balanced offensive attack that saw four players all recording double-digit kills.

USU hit .230 (62-22-174) overall as a team, with Kamalu-Smith leading the way with 15 kills, followed by junior outside Lauren Anderson with 14, junior right side Kayla DeCoursey with 12 and sophomore middle Lauren O’Brien with 10. Fellow middle Carly Lenzen was the most efficient hitter, recording a .467 hitting percentage with seven kills on 15 attempts without an error. Moscoso finished the contest with a double-double, recording 42 assists and 12 digs.

Every player on the Utah State back row recorded double-digit digs as well, with Gleason leading the way with 13, followed by senior defensive specialist Maddie Day-Larsen with 12 and sophomore defensive specialist Tasia Taylor logging 10. The USU block was also strong, recording a season-high 11.0 blocks, highlighted by a career-high seven-block performance from O’Brien in the middle.

Utah State scored the first three points of the match and only trailed once in the opening frame. The Aggies used an 8-1 run to overcome a 7-5 deficit and take a 13-8 advantage and then carried the lead until a late push by the Vikings squared the set at 23-23. Anderson and DeCoursey then recorded back-to-back kills to give the Aggies the 25-23 victory.

Utah State had to play from behind in the second set, flipping a 7-3 Portland State lead into a 13-9 lead of its own with a 13-2 run capped by a pair of kills from O’Brien and Kamalu-Smith. The margin only came as close as three points over the rest of the set as Kamalu-Smith used another kill to wrap up the frame, 25-18.

Utah State looked poised to take the match in three, carrying the lead in the set to as late as 17-15. Portland State then put together a four-point run, taking a 19-17 lead that led to a USU timeout. O’Brien recorded a kill coming out of the break, pulling the Aggies to within one and the teams were within one again at 22-21, but the Vikings captured the set, 25-22, with a closing 3-1 run.

Utah State fought back from a late 17-14 deficit in the fourth set with a four-point run, taking an 18-17 lead, but the push was matched by Portland State with an echoing four-point run. The back-and-forth put the Aggies down 21-18, until a kill by junior outside Rachel Gale ended the run and drew Utah State to within two, 21-19. The Vikings then broke the final three serves by Utah State and evened the match at 2-2 with a 25-21 victory.

The teams played to a 4-4 tie in the fifth set when Portland State scored back-to-back points to take a 6-4 lead. O’Brien and DeCoursey brought the Aggies to within one on the next rally with a block, 6-5, and another kill by DeCoursey trimmed the margin to one again at 7-6, but it was as close as Utah State came in the final set. Portland State finished the frame with an 8-3 run to take the match, 15-9.

PSU senior outside hitter Pati Anae led all offensive players during the match with 24 kills, but hit .188 while committing 12 errors on a match-high 64 attempts. Overall, Portland State hit .260 (71-26-173) on the night, exceeding their closing mark in each of the final three sets (.306, .395, .269).

Utah State will return to the court tomorrow afternoon, facing Southeastern Louisiana at 1 p.m. The Lions dropped both of their matches on the day, 3-0, falling to both Portland State and UC Riverside. The Vikings and Highlanders will begin the final day of the USU Invitational at 11 a.m.

Live stat and video links for the Utah State match will be available online at utahstateaggies.com. Tickets for both matches can be purchased online as well at utahstateaggies.com, or by calling the Utah State ticket office at 1-888-USTATE-1.

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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