Utah State women's volleyball used a strong performance on the offensive and defensive sides to post a 3-2 (25-27, 28-26, 25-22, 23-25, 15-8) victory at Nevada on Thursday night. The win evened the Aggies' record at 6-6 overall and opened their conference ledger at 1-0.
Utah State recorded a season-high 71 kills, hitting .293 (71-25-157), its second-highest mark of the season. The Aggie attack was led by senior outside Kaylie Kamalu-Smith with a career-high 30 kills, and she was followed by junior right side Kayla DeCoursey with 16 kills and junior outside Lauren Anderson with 15. DeCoursey led the Aggies during the night, hitting .625 with just a single error on her 24 attempts. Senior setter Erica Moscoso thrived during the match, racking up a career-high 64 assists in directing the attack.
Defensively, Utah State also excelled, totaling 65 digs and recording 16 more than Nevada, its largest margin of the season, as the Wolf Pack finished with 49. Senior libero Hannah Gleason led the way with 22, her third 20-plus dig outing of the season, and she was followed by Kamalu-Smith with 14 and senior defensive specialist Maddie Day-Larsen with 11. Kamalu-Smith's totals marked her second double-double of the season and the fifth of her career and continued a streak of six matches with double-digit kills.
"I thought it was a well-played match on both ends of the court," head coach Grayson DuBose said. "We hit well and they hit well and it was just a great match."
The contest played out like a boxing match as the teams traded runs and counter runs, leading to a pair of extra-point sets in the first and second games. Utah State had to play from behind in much of the first set but used a 5-1 run to overcome a 21-18 deficit and turn it into a 23-22 lead. A Kamalu-Smith kill gave USU a set point at 24-23, but Nevada came back with a 4-1 run to close out the set, 27-25, and take a 1-0 lead.
Utah State returned the favor in the second set with a late run of its own, fighting off a 26-25 Wolf Pack set point with three straight to take the set, 28-26. The Aggies had to go through 15 ties and nine lead changes during the second set to capture the victory but made the most of two Nevada errors and a Kamalu-Smith kill for the win.
The teams were mired in another late tie in the third set, squared at 21-21, after 10 ties and six lead changes. DeCoursey broke the deadlock with a kill and started a 4-1 closing run for the Aggies, punctuated by another Kamalu-Smith kill for the 25-22 victory, putting USU up 2-1.
Utah State came back from seven points down, 12-5, in the fourth set with an 11-4 run to tie the game at 16-16. A subsequent service ace by junior middle Carly Lenzen, one of three for her on the night, gave the Aggies their first lead of the fourth game, 17-16. USU continued to lead, using a 4-1 run to open up a three-point advantage, 23-20, capped by a Kamalu-Smith kill. However, the Aggies stumbled down the stretch with four attacking errors as the Wolf Pack capitalized with five-straight points and forced a fifth set with the 25-23 win.
Utah State locked up the match in the fifth set with a six-point run, breaking a 6-6 tie and taking a 12-6 lead. DeCoursey and Kamalu-Smith were responsible for kills during the rally as the Aggies also made the most of three errors by the Wolf Pack. Nevada committed two more errors down the stretch, and Kamalu-Smith recorded her 30th dig as USU wrapped up the match, 15-8.
"Kaylie played good volleyball tonight and played smart volleyball tonight," DuBose said. "She didn't try to do too much and hit really well when she got into a rhythm and Nevada couldn't defend her tonight.
"We were also able to dig and turn a lot of balls. We dug and were able to turn in transition and it really gave us some opportunities. I really feel that the match was won in transition tonight."
Utah State looks for a second-straight conference victory when the Aggies' road trip continues in San Diego, California, with a match against San Diego State at 7 p.m. Fans can follow the contest via live stat and video links online.
Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.