Volleyball Upends Utah State in Four Sets

Ashlynn Dunbar (6) celebrates after one of her match-high 16 kills, which tied a career best.
Oct. 21, 2017

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State volleyball team won its second straight on Saturday with a four-set triumph over Utah State (25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-14) in a Mountain West match at Aztec Court.

SDSU (11-12, 5-5 MW) maintained a 61-40 advantage in kills and a 14.0-10.5 spread in team blocks to win for the fifth time in their last seven outings and avenge an earlier road loss to the Aggies in the conference opener on Sept. 21.

Offensively, the Aztecs received double-digit kill totals from four players, including Ashlynn Dunbar, who finished one short of her career high with 15 put-aways, while Alexis Cage blasted 13 non-returnables of her own. Hannah Turnlund also got into the act with 12 kills, while Gabi Peoples dished out 52 assists.

At the net, Deja Harris (10 kills) led all players with eight block assists, while Dunbar combined for six stops to tie a personal best, along with Baylee Little, who finished with nine kills as well.

Conversely, Utah State (12-10, 4-6 MW) was paced by Lauren Anderson's 10 kills, while Rachel Gale-Hammond knocked down nine attempts in the loss. In addition, Lauren O'Brien contributed eight put-aways and six block assists, while Tasia Taylor recorded a match-high 14 digs.

The two sides battled through seven ties and three leads changes in the opening set, but SDSU vaulted in front for good at 14-11 following a Cage kill and two combined blocks. The Aggies twice cut the margin to two, including a 15-13 spread on a kill by Gale-Hammond. However, the Aztecs responded with a timely 6-1 outburst to forge an insurmountable 21-14 lead. SDSU spread the wealth during the run, with Cage, Harris and Little each recording put-aways, while Devyn Pritchard added a service ace.

Save for two early ties, the Aztecs led throughout the second stanza, eventually building an 18-10 cushion after another pair of non-returnables by Cage. USU would not go quietly, however, fashioning a 13-6 run to pull within 24-23. Kayla DeCoursey totaled three kills during that span, while Anderson and Bailey Downing chipped in two apiece. SDSU promptly stole the Aggies momentum on the very next serve, with Turnlund knocking down a shot to provide the clinching point.

The Aztecs got off to a shaky start in the third frame and found themselves in pursuit mode after falling behind 10-4 in the early going. Despite posting more kills (16-10), SDSU was undone by 13 attack errors in the set, hitting at just a .065 clip. Nevertheless, the Scarlet and Black battled through the inconsistency, eventually taking a brief 19-18 lead on back-to-back Dunbar put-aways.

However, the Aggies quickly stole the momentum with a 7-2 closing run punctuated by a Johnson and Downing combined block.

SDSU turned things around in the fourth set, posting a .348 hitting percentage on 12 kills in 23 attempts with four errors, while the visitors logged a .083 clip, posting eight put-aways and six errors on 24 swings. Cage and Sam McGrath got the Aztecs off on the right track with a pair of aces early on to help give the hosts an 11-6 lead they would not relinquish. USU never got closer than five points the rest of the way, as Little's third kill of the frame upped the Scarlet and Black's advantage to 22-12, putting the score out of reach.

San Diego State returns to the road for two matches next week at Nevada (Oct. 26) and San José State (Oct. 28). Next Saturday's Aztecs-Spartans clash will be streamed live via the Mountain West Network on GoAztecs.com.

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