Second-Set Run Fuels Volleyball's Comeback Win vs. Lobos
Nov. 11, 2017
SAN DIEGO -- Sparked by a decisive run in the second set, the San Diego State volleyball team rallied for a 3-1 triumph over visiting New Mexico (20-25, 26-24, 25-13, 25-12) in a Mountain West match Saturday at Aztec Court.
With the victory, SDSU has won two in a row and seven of its last eight, moving to 16-13 overall and 10-6 in the conference race, while the Lobos slip to 14-15 on the year and 6-10 in the MW.
Already trailing 1-0 and facing a 21-14 deficit in the second stanza, the Aztecs unleashed a furious 12-3 blitz to capture the frame before winning the final two sets in relatively easy fashion to complete the season sweep of New Mexico.
Collectively, SDSU maintained the edge in most statistical categories, including kills (58-48), digs (55-45) and team blocks (17.0 to 7.0). The block total marked a season high for the Scarlet and Black, which also benefited from nine errant Lobo serves.
In addition, the Aztecs posted a greater hitting percentage (.296 to .175), including a .368 to .015 spread over the final two sets.
Individually, SDSU was led by Deja Harris, who blasted a match-high 15 kills and hit .565 for the contest with just two errors on 23 swings, while Ashlynn Dunbar (14), Baylee Little (12) and Alexis Cage (10) amassed double-digit put-ways. Cage also came up with 12 digs to complete her team-leading sixth double-double of the year, while Gabi Peoples handed out 44 assists. In addition, Devyn Pritchard posted a match-high 21 digs to anchor the back row.
At the net, Little established a career high with nine block assists, while Harris finished with eight, followed by Erin Gillcrist, who also set a personal best with seven blocks of her own in just her third appearance of the season.
The seeds for SDSU's dramatic comeback were sown in the second set when the Scarlet and Black found itself on the wrong side of a 21-14 score after a service ace by the Lobos' Ashley Kelsey. However, the Aztecs caught lightning in a bottle, scoring 12 of the next 15 points to steal the set and level the match.
But it wasn't easy.
Cage and Harris knocked down consecutive kills, while UNM committed a ball-handling error to help the host school pull within 23-20. Harris and Cage quickly combined on a block, while Peoples found the opposite floor with a dump shot, cutting the margin to 23-22.
Nevertheless, the reeling Lobos still managed to get to set point on the next serve after SDSU misfired on an attack. Incredibly, however, the Aztecs took charge at this juncture with four straight points to seize the momentum and set the tone for the rest of the match.
First, Dunbar launched a kill prompting a New Mexico timeout, while Cage followed with two non-returnables of her own sandwiched around a joint block by Peoples and Little.
Buoyed by its good fortune, the Aztecs completely dominated the disheartened Lobos in the final two sets, posting more kills (27-17) and team blocks (11.0 to 3.0) during that span to win going away.
SDSU raced to a 10-2 lead in the third set thanks in part to a pair of Dunbar kills and two combined blocks from Little and Gillcrist. The Aztec teammates also joined forces on a stuff later in the frame, which gave the host school a commanding 20-8 advantage.
In the fourth stanza, SDSU broke open a tight 5-4 score with five straight points, capped by a Sam McGrath service ace and two Harris kills to build a 10-4 cushion. Shortly thereafter, Little padded her stat line with three put-aways and three additional combined blocks to put the host school up 18-8. Overall, the Aztecs enjoyed their best hitting performance of the afternoon with a .520 clip on 15 kills in 25 attempts to go with two errors.
The match began as a dogfight, with the two sides witnessing seven ties before the Lobos jumped in front for good 20-18, following consecutive kills by Mariessa Carrasco and Hailey Rubino. After an exchange of attack errors, Little's put-away brought the Scarlet and Black to within 22-21. However, Lobos kept the hosts at bay with four straight points to clinch frame.
New Mexico was led by Rubino's 13 kills, while Lauren Twitty added 10 of her own.
San Diego State will split its two remaining regular season matches between the road and home, traveling to Wyoming for a mid-week clash on Wednesday, Nov. 15, before returning to Montezuma Mesa to battle 19th-ranked Colorado State on Saturday, Nov. 18, as part of Senior Day festivities.