Utah State volleyball posted a 3-0 victory over UNLV on Saturday, sweeping the Rebels during the 2017 season. The win moved the Aggies to 13-11 overall and 5-7 in the Mountain West, while UNLV dropped to 12-12 and 4-8 in league play.
The victory was highlighted by a school-record performance by junior libero Tasia Taylor, logging 25 digs and breaking the previous school record of 24 digs in a three-set match by Christine Morrill against Boise State on November 4, 2010. Taylor finished the first set with 10 digs alone, as Utah State jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the frame following a 5-1 run.
USU blocks started and ended the run as senior opposite Kayla DeCoursey combined with freshman middle Bailey Downing for the first, and Downing then paired up with junior setter Kassidy Johnson for the last, giving the Aggies the four-point cushion. Utah State used another six-point run later to take a 15-6 lead as UNLV committed five-straight attacking errors. A final error by the Rebels gave the Aggies the set, 25-17.
The second set was close at the beginning as the teams worked through three ties and three lead changes. Utah State broke the final 6-6 deadlock with back-to-back points, capped by a service ace by senior outside Rachel Gale-Hammond. The Aggies finished the match with six aces, compared to zero for the Rebels, the first time this season that Utah State had a flawless serve receive. USU then sided out UNLV on its next four serves to keep the lead and put together a small three-point run. Another three-point run for the Aggies put the finishing touches on the set for USU, as kills by senior outside Lauren Anderson and Gale-Hammond and a service ace by Anderson punctuated the set, 25-19, for the home side.
Utah State overcame a 7-3 deficit in the final set, using a 9-1 run to take a 12-8 lead behind kills by Downing and Anderson. UNLV countered later in the set and took a 14-13 lead, only to have the Aggies answer with a three-point run behind a kill by DeCoursey, block by Gale-Hammond and a final kill by junior middle Lauren O’Brien, giving USU the 16-14 lead. Utah State never trailed again but did have to weather a late push by UNLV after the Rebels fought off two match points before the eventual 25-23 finish.
“We played well and stayed on task,” Grayson DuBose said following the match that marked his 100th conference victory as head coach of the Aggies. “We did what we needed to do to get them out of system. Our serving and our serve receiving (were) on point.”
Anderson led the Utah State attack during the match, recording a match-high 19 kills, followed by Gale-Hammond with 11. The duo hit better than .250 during the contest, hitting .286 (19-7-42) and .250 (11-3-32), respectively. DeCoursey added a career-high 14 digs, Anderson a career-high four assists and Downing a career-high two service aces, to round out other career numbers during the match.
UNLV was led offensively by freshman outside Mariena Hayden with eight kills as the Rebels hit .102 (33-21-118) to Utah State’s .225 (45-18-120). Hayden also tied for the team lead with 14 digs, matching sophomore libero Leka Kiner-Falefa. UNLV junior middle Elsa Descamps led both teams with eight blocks as the Rebels recorded 10.0 to Utah State’s 9.0.
USU is back in action next week, opening a three-match road swing at Colorado State on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. The trip continues with stops at Wyoming on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m., and at Boise State on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.