Volleyball Wins Twice on Saturday
Sept. 9, 2017
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State volleyball team won consecutive matches for the first time this season on Saturday after defeating Long Beach State 3-2 in a five-set thriller (14-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 15-3), followed by a 3-0 conquest of Pacific (25-19, 25-17, 25-22) to close out the JLABS Challenge at Aztec Court. With the victories, SDSU raises its record to 4-5 on the season.
Against Pacific (4-5), the Aztecs maintained a sizeable advantage in kills (42-28) and digs (45-27), employing timely runs to seize control of the match despite getting outblocked 8.0-4.0.
Individually, Hannah Turnlund (13) and Deja Harris (11) combined for 24 of SDSU's 42 kills, while Alexandra Psoma narrowly missed out on a double-double, finishing with nine put-aways and 10 digs. In addition, the Aztecs received another solid all-round performance from Alexis Cage, who totaled nine kills, four digs and three blocks assists.
Turnlund's 13 non-returnables marked a season high, as did her .409 attack percentage, while Harris continued her hot hitting with a torrid .562 clip.
Not to be outdone, Gabi Peoples made her second career start a memorable one, dishing out a match-high 37 assists to go with eight digs and a service ace, while Devyn Pritchard led all players with 11 digs.
The two sides were deadlocked a 17-17 in the first set before the Scarlet and Black reeled off six straight points to take the lead for good. Psoma had two kills during that span as the Aztecs also benefited from two errant Tiger attacks. Moments later, SDSU received a kill from Harris, while another wayward Pacific attempt provided the clinching point.
The Aztecs wasted no time giving themselves some breathing room in the second stanza as a 10-0 blitz broke open a tight 4-4 score. Appropriately, Turnlund and Harris sparked the run with three kills apiece, while Pritchard added an ace. The Tigers narrowed the gap on to 24-17 on a block by Ashlyn Fleming and Andie Shelton, followed by an SDSU attack error. However, the deficit proved too much to overcome as UOP returned the favor with a miscue of its own on the ensuing point.
The teams combined for five ties and three lead changes in the third frame before the Aztecs jumped in front to stay 13-11 following a Psoma kill and a Peoples service ace. The Tigers cut the margin to one on the next point after Emily Baptista and Alex Holt combined on a block. However, SDSU fashioned a timely 7-3 run to build a 20-15 cushion.
Pacific threatened down the stretch after a Baptista service ace trimmed the margin to 23-22. However, the Aztecs withstood the challenge, getting the final two points on a Turnlund kill and an additional Tiger hitting error.
Earlier in the day against Long Beach State (1-8), SDSU overcame a 2-1 deficit in sets, capped by a dominating performance in the final frame, to snap a two-match losing streak.
In the clinching set, the Aztecs received four kills from Harris and another three from Psoma, while Cage and Turnlund launched two non-returnables apiece. As a team, SDSU outhit the 49ers .786-(-.056), blasting 11 kills on 14 attempts with no errors.
The Aztecs received several outstanding individual performances to key their dramatic victory, including Cage, who completed the team's first double-double of the year with 15 kills and 13 digs while hitting .324. In addition, Harris (.379) contributed 15 put-aways of her own to go with six blocks assists, while Psoma also reached double figures in kills after posting 11.
SDSU's winning effort was secured thanks to a season-best 22 digs by Pritchard, who also served up three aces, while Ashlynn Dunbar finished with a career-high 11 scoops as well. Peoples also got into the act with 37 helpers while adding four digs and two block assists.
Conversely, the 49ers were paced by Megan Kruidhof's 18 kills, while YiZhi Xue and Monika Simkova chipped in 12 apiece in the loss.
Collectively the Aztecs outhit LBSU .287-.231, limiting the visitors to just a .019 clip over the final two sets. SDSU also held the edge in kills (63-57) and digs (67-57) despite a 12.0-9.0 deficiency in total blocks.
The seeds for the Aztecs' comeback were planted in the third set as the two teams combined for 10 ties and four lead changes. SDSU nursed a slim 17-16 advantage, but the 49ers went ahead to stay on a Kruidhof service ace and a Simkova kill, which sparked a 9-3 closing run.
However, the Aztecs flashed their resiliency in the fourth frame, returning the favor with a nearly identical 10-3 surge to erase an early 4-1 deficit. SDSU maintained a series of four-point leads, including a 15-11 spread following a Psoma kill. The 49ers pulled to within two at 16-14 after an Aztec service error, but could draw no closer as three consecutive kills by Harris gave the Scarlet and Black some much-needed momentum.
SDSU stretched the lead to 23-17 after an errant LBSU attack, but the 49ers scored the next three points to prompt an Aztec timeout. After the huddle, Turnlund quickly extinguished the threat with consecutive kills, which set the stage for the host school's outburst in the final set.
Following the Pacific match, SDSU's Cage was named to the all-tournament team, along with LBSU's Kruidhof, UOP's Baptista and Savannah Slattery of Loyola Marymount.
The Aztecs continue their non-conference slate next Tuesday, when they head west down Interstate 8 to battle crosstown adversary San Diego, beginning at 6 p.m. inside Jenny Craig Pavilion.