Volleyball Downs New Mexico in Four Sets
Oct. 12, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The San Diego State volleyball team picked up its first conference road victory of the season Thursday with an inspired four-set triumph over New Mexico (20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 27-25) in a Mountain West clash at Johnson Center.
The Aztecs received superlative performances in nearly every phase of the game, winning their second straight to move to 9-11 overall and 3-4 in league play, while the Lobos slip to 10-9 on the year and 2-5 in the MW.
Alexis Cage, Deja Harris and Gabi Peoples each recorded a double-double to help the Scarlet and Black avenge a 3-0 loss in Albuquerque a year ago. Cage blasted a season-high 21 kills and added 15 digs, while Harris produced another solid all-round effort with 12 put-aways of her own to go with a career-best 11 blocks (1 solo). Not to be outdone, Peoples posted collegiate highs of 54 assists and 11 digs.
The SDSU cause was also aided by Ashlynn Dunbar (13) and Hannah Turnlund (10), who both reached the double-digit kill plateau, while Devyn Pritchard once again provided brilliant support along the back row, finishing with a season-best 29 digs, two short of a personal best. In addition, Dunbar equaled her season-high with six block assists.
The two sides logged 13.0 team blocks apiece, but SDSU maintained a collective advantage in both kills (66-47) and digs (68-54) while holding a slight edge in hitting percentage .202 to .173 to help fuel its win. After recording a .112 clip over the first two sets, the Aztecs found their rhythm, hitting .303 in the final two frames to close out the host school.
SDSU found itself trailing by seven points on two occasions in the opening set, including an 11-4 deficit following a put-away by the Lobos’ Victoria Spragg. Shortly thereafter, the Aztecs received a pair of kills from both Cage and Harris to spark a 9-3 surge, which narrowed the gap to 14-13. However, SDSU was unable to seize the upper-hand as UNM successfully kept the visitors at bay.
The Aztecs managed to trim the margin to 18-17 shortly thereafter, but the Lobos closed with a timely 7-3 run, with Carson Heilborn contributing a kill and two blocks, including a solo stop for the clinching point.
The two sides witnessed four ties early in the second stanza, including a 4-4 deadlock, before SDSU engineered a 13-7 blitz to build a seemingly comfortable 17-11 advantage. Cage collected three kills during the run, while Harris and Turnlund launched a pair of non-returnables apiece.
However, the Lobos fought themselves off the ropes momentarily with an 11-5 spurt to knot the score at 22-22. UNM capitalized on three errant Aztec attacks and a pair of wayward serves while recording three blocks, including a solo stuff by Spragg, to climb back into contention. Stung, SDSU promptly flashed its resiliency with a 3-1 finishing run, capped Harris and Dunbar’s combined block.
The Aztecs came out firing on all cylinders in the third frame, racing to a 16-7 lead and never looking back. SDSU logged its best attack percentage of the night, hitting .312 with 15 kills and five errors in 32 attempts. Cage and Turnlund collected four put-aways each during the set, while Dunbar crushed three.
The fourth stanza quickly evolved into a see-saw affair, with the two sides combining for 18 ties and seven lead changes in a highly entertaining battle. The Aztecs appeared to give themselves some separation at 17-14, scoring three points on consecutive kills by Tamia Reeves, Cage and Pritchard. However, the Lobos would not got quietly as Lauren Twitty floored two balls, while Spragg added another during a 5-1 outburst that put the hosts up 19-18.
Moments later, it was SDSU’s turn to steal the momentum as the Scarlet and Black fashioned a 5-2 run to forge a slim 23-21 lead. Cage erupted for three kills during that span, while Harris added two others, putting the visitors on the cusp of victory.
Not so fast.
New Mexico answered with a 4-2 run to get to set point, earning kills from Spragg and Carly Beddingfield, with the former combining with Yasmin Tan on a block as well, while benefiting from an Aztec attack error.
With the prospects of a fifth set looming, SDSU quickly turned the tables once again, as Dunbar knocked down a kill before combining with Harris on a block. With match point in their own hands, the Aztecs promptly secured the victory as Harris joined forces with Turnlund at the net this time to snuff out the Lobos’ last shot.
New Mexico was led by Mariessa Carrasco’s 12 kills, while Twitty notched 10 put-aways of her own. In addition, Spragg finished with six block assists, while Carrasco had five stops in the loss.
San Diego State will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 14, when it travels to UNLV for another conference showdown, beginning at 3 p.m. PT. The match will be streamed live via the Mountain West Network on GoAztecs.com.