Utah State holds off UTSA on Thursday night
SAN ANTONIO — Utah State quelled a late UTSA rally and the Aggies posted a four-set victory (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20) in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams on Thursday night.
Utah State (6-4, 1-0 WAC) won the first two sets before the Roadrunners (6-4, 0-1 WAC) rallied in the third.
Both teams struggled on offense, as the Aggies committed 25 attack errors and hit .177, while UTSA managed to hit only .108 due to 29 miscues. The two teams had more success on defense with the Birds recording 17 team blocks and Utah State posting 10 to go along with 82 digs.
Junior McKenzie Adams recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 19 digs and 17 kills to pace the Birds. Junior Brandy Huskey netted her seventh double-double of the fall with 39 assists and 13 digs, while junior Paige Hamilton and sophomore Becca Stark chipped in on the defensive end with 14 and 11 digs, respectively.
Utah State received a pair of double-doubles from Paige Neves (match-high 41 assists/18 digs) and Josselyn White (11 digs/10 kills). Ashlan Rogers and Rachel Orr also netted match highs with 27 digs and 18 kills, respectively.
The Aggies posted four total blocks in the first set and forced 11 UTSA attack errors, which translated to a (-.025) percentage. Utah State broke a 12-all tie after an attack by Adams sailed long. The Aggies went on to extend the advantage to 19-15 before the Birds posted a 6-3 spurt that pulled them within one. However, Utah State won three of the final four points to claim the opening set.
UTSA struggled again in the second frame with a .077 hitting percentage and the Aggies capitalized to take a commanding 2-0 lead into intermission.
The Aggies held a 21-17 edge before the Roadrunners reeled off four consecutive points, including back-to-back winners by freshman Kylie Schott, to tie the stanza. However, Utah State forced another attack error and then earned three of the next four tallies to close out the set triumph.
The Birds rallied from a six-point deficit in the third set to extend the contest. UTSA posted eight team blocks and limited the Aggies to a .093 hitting percentage.
Utah State, which hit just .093 in the set, raced out to a 6-1 lead and then increased its lead to 16-10 before the Roadrunners mounted a comeback.
Sophomore Lauren Muenchow provided a spark off the bench by posting her first kill and the Birds cut the advantage to four at 20-16. After two winners from Adams in the next three points, Muenchow and freshman Jordan Kotara combined on a block to trim the Aggies' lead to two (21-19). The clubs then traded points before UTSA recorded a 4-0 run that gave the hosts a 24-22 lead. Shay Sorensen notched a kill before Orr's next attempt went wide to give the Birds their first win of the evening.
UTSA tried to capitalize on the momentum, but after opening an early lead in the deciding frame, they were unable to extend the contest.
The Roadrunners quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead with kills from four different players, including two by Adams. However, the Aggies rallied to win 12 of the next 20 points to even the frame. Utah State then got a kill from Orr and service ace from Kassi Hargrove to take the lead for good. UTSA stayed within two over the next eight points before an attack error gave the Aggies a three-point advantage. A 4-2 spurt down the stretch put the frame out of reach and Utah State picked up the final tally on an Orr winner.
UTSA will continue its conference-opening weekend on Saturday when San Jose State (4-6, 0-1 WAC) comes to town. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m.