Down two sets to one and 19-10 in the fourth set, Utah State volleyball fought back to force a fifth set before the Aggies' rally came up short, falling to Utah in five sets (25-21, 10-25, 17-25, 25-23, 14-16) Friday night at a spirited Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The match wrapped up the first day of action of the USU Invitational sponsored by Gossner Foods, which continues all day on Saturday.
The Aggies won the first set, 25-21, before the Utes stormed back to take the next two sets, 25-10 and 25-17, respectively. Utah had a 19-10 lead in the fourth set and later had a 23-19 advantage before USU bounced back, getting three kills from senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen during the spurt to force the deciding fifth frame.
USU levels its record at 1-1, while the Utes improve to 2-0 after both teams won their first matches Friday via 3-0 sweeps as Utah State topped Portland and Utah beat Southern Utah.
Sorensen led USU with 11 kills, including six in the last two sets, while sophomore outside hitter Rachel Orr added nine kills on the night. In her first action of the season, freshman outside hitter Candace Richins was a spark off the Aggie bench, posting five kills with four of them coming in the last two sets, ending the night with a match-best .625 (5-0-8) hitting percentage.
Another Aggie who didn't see action in Friday's first match was sophomore setter Paige Neves, who suffered a hand injury earlier in the week, but bounced back in Friday's nightcap and dished out 28 assists, as well as logging a team-high 12 digs. Sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers added 11 digs, while freshman defensive specialist McKell Staheli and senior outside hitter Josselyn White added 10 each. Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff logged a team-best eight block assists, while redshirt freshman Elle Brainard added seven block assists, as USU had 15.5 total team blocks to Utah's 20 total blocks.
The Utes were led by Chelsey Scholfield's 21 kills, while Morgan Odale added 15 kills and Erin Redd notched 12 kills to go with a match-best 13 block assists. McKendzie Odale distributed 59 assists, while Nikki Sim tallied 18 digs.
Utah hit .155 (63-38-161) for the match, hitting .296 (13-5-27) in set two and .250 (10-5-20) in the deciding set. USU hit .045 (38-32-134) on the night, posting a high of .188 (6-3-16) in the fifth frame.
Saturday's action tips off with Portland facing Southern Utah at 9:30 a.m., followed by Weber State and Utah at noon. The Aggies face the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah at 2 p.m., preceding the 5 p.m. match-up between the Utes of Utah against the Pilots of Portland. USU concludes action by facing Weber State at 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $1 for youth ages 3-14. The USU Athletics Ticket Office will open at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Utah State volleyball tickets are available in person at the USU Athletics Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Live stats of every match during the 2012 Utah State Invitational are available via the USU Athletics web site at www.utahstateaggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics via GameTracker, with the links for GameTracker as well as box scores and recaps of all the matches at the Tournament Central page at http://bit.ly/NJ8loQ. Match and tournament updates will also be available on twitter at twitter.com/USUVolleyball.Comment on this story
The Utah State matches of the 2012 Utah State Invitational will be streamed on the Internet by clicking on the “Watch Live” link at www.UtahStateAggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics. 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.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.