Spirited Comeback Lifts Volleyball Past Boise State

Oct. 19, 2017

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State volleyball team produced a comeback for the ages Thursday, posting a five-set triumph over Boise State (20-25, 24-26, 25-20, 25-19, 15-10) in a Mountain West clash at Aztec Court.

The Aztecs (10-12, 4-5 MW) recorded their first victory in nine outings this season after trailing 2-0 in sets to snap a six-match losing streak against the Broncos (11-10, 4-5 MW), who lost their fifth straight. SDSU had five players post double-digit kill totals, including Deja Harris, who totaled a season-high 18 put-aways and hit .548 to go with a match-high five blocks assists.

In addition, Alexis Cage (16 kills, 13 digs) and Ashlynn Dunbar (13 kills, 13 digs) each recorded a double-double, while Baylee Little got into the act as well with a season-best 13 non-returnables, followed by Hannah Turnlund, who finished with 11 on the night.

The Aztec fortunes were also bolstered by Gabi Peoples, who dished out a career-high 62 assists, while Devyn Pritchard continued her stellar play along the back row with a personal-best 33 digs.

The two sides combined for 36 ties and 11 lead changes in the first two sets, with both teams knocking down 32 kills each during that span. However, the visitors benefited from 14 SDSU attack errors while committing just six miscues of their own.

SDSU began its gradual ascent in the third frame, as the Scarlet and Black received consecutive kills by Turnlund, Cage and Harris to break an 8-8 deadlock and take the lead for good. The Aztecs increased their advantage to six on two occasions, including a 22-16 spread following a Dunbar put-away. However, the Broncos made things interesting shortly thereafter, scoring four quick points on a pair of aces by Sabryn Roberts, who also combined with Laney Hayes on a block, while Sierra Nobley added a kill.

SDSU emerged unfazed following a timeout, as Cage launched her fifth non-returnable of the set, while Little's kill provided the clinching tally moments later on the heels of a Boise State attack error. The Aztecs held the Broncos to their lowest hitting percentage of the night (.085), helped by four team blocks, while Pritchard shoveled up nine digs.

The two teams traded proverbial punches in the fourth stanza, totaling seven ties and three lead changes, before SDSU vaulted in front for good on Dunbar and Little's combined block, while Cage tallied a kill to put the hosts up 17-15. Boise State scored the next point on a Nobley put-away, but the Aztecs finished with a strong 8-3 run to even the set scores at 2-2. Dunbar fueled the surge with three additional kills, while Sam McGrath secured the final point with a service ace.

SDSU saved its best for last, hitting .562 in the decisive fifth set, blasting 10 kills with just one error on 16 attempts. Harris came up big once again with three put-aways during a timely 4-1 Aztec run that broke a 5-5 tie. Trailing 9-6, the Broncos remained in striking distance, trimming the deficit to two on four occasions, including a 12-10 margin following a Nobley kill.

However, SDSU displayed its finishing kick this time, as Turnlund, Harris and Dunbar took turns launching kills to complete the comeback and vanquish the defending Mountain West champions.

Collectively, the Aztecs maintained the upper hand in kills (73-64), digs (83-68) and team blocks (8.0-7.0) while outhitting Boise State for the match .273 to .234.

SDSU seemed poised to take control in the opening set after Harris collected a pair of kills to give the host school a slim 18-16 lead. However, the Broncos stormed to the finish with a timely 9-2 run, sparked by three Nobley kills, while Roberts added a solo block.

Despite seven lead changes, the Aztecs found themselves in pursuit mode past the midway point of the second stanza, forging nine ties after Boise State went in front 16-15 on a Hayes kill. With the score knotted at 24-24, the Broncos got the last two points on a Nobley put-away and an SDSU attack error.

Nobley led all players with 22 kills, while Roberts contributed 15 non-returnables and four blocks, including one solo stop.

San Diego State will have little time to savor its victory as Utah State invades Montezuma Mesa on Saturday for an afternoon encounter, starting at 1 p.m. PT. The Aztecs-Aggies match has been designated Kid's Club Day, with the first 250 fans receiving a free Aztec T-shirt.

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