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Aztecs Drop Heartbreaker To St. Mary's At NCAA Tourney

Raegan Shelton tied her career high with 21 kills in the loss to St. Mary's in the first round of th NCAA Tournament.
Raegan Shelton tied her career high with 21 kills in the loss to St. Mary's in the first round of th NCAA Tournament.

Nov. 29, 2012

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

Los Angeles, Calif. - Postseason experience was the difference as San Diego State saw a two-set lead evaporate as St. Mary's came back to defeat the Aztecs in five sets (17-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-12) in NCAA Tournament first round action at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. The loss ended SDSU's season as it finished with a record of 23-8 in what must be considered its most successful season since joining the Mountain West in 1999.

Outside hitter Raegan Shelton led the Aztecs with 21 kills as she matched her career high. The junior from Amarillo, Texas, also recorded seven digs and a block over the five sets.

SDSU's two seniors, Andrea Hannasch and Kristi Jackels, were prominent contributors just as they were all season long. Hannasch finished with 17 kills, 15 blocks, four blocks, two assists and a service ace. Jackels also had a stellar evening with 21 digs, five assists and a pair of service aces.

Sophomore Chaiymin Steel also ended the evening in double figures in kills with 11 while setter Johnna Fouch notched her 11th double-double of the year (and fourth in the past five matches) with 58 assists and 15 digs.

Kristina Graven led St. Mary's (18-10) with 23 kills while teammate Jordan Shaw had 11. Although the Aztecs finished the night with more kills than the Gaels (73-60), St. Mary's committed only 17 errors to 33 for SDSU and had 16 team blocks compared to four by the Aztecs.

San Diego State got out of the blocks quickly in the opening sent as it took an early 6-1 lead. The Gaels would get back to within three on several occasions, the last time at 13-10 before the Aztecs extended their advantage to six (16-10) en route to the eight-point victory. Andrea Hannasch, Raegan Shelton and Chaiymin Steel paced the SDSU attack with four kills apiece.

The second set started off the opposite way as St. Mary's jumped out to a 6-3 lead. The Aztecs were unable to get closer than one point, which they did several times, until back-to-back kills by Shelton and Summer Nash tied the contest at 18-18. After the teams traded points, SDSU got kills from Steel and Nash to take the lead for good. A kill and a block by Hannasch plus a St. Mary's service error gave SDSU a 24-21 advantage and three shots at set point. The Gaels fought off two of those points, but Andrea Hannasch made not mistake in putting away the set-winning kill as the Aztecs grabbed the 25-23 win and went up 2-0 in the match.

Set number three saw San Diego State down by six at 12-6 before rallying for seven straight points to take the lead. The teams went back-and-forth until at 18-all the Aztecs scored three in a row to open up a 21-18 lead. After a timeout, however, the Gaels fought back with six consecutive points of their own to go up 24-21. The Aztecs scored the next two points but were unable to stop a kill by Jordan Shaw that gave St. Mary's the narrow win. Shelton led all players with seven kills in the set.

Unfortunately for the Aztecs, the fourth set was eerily similar to the third. San Diego State found itself with the momentum and a three-point lead late at 21-18, but just as in the previous set St. Mary's came out of a timeout to score six straight points and take a 24-21 lead. SDSU won the next point, but a kill by Gabby Jolly gave the Gaels the set win and evened the match at two sets apiece. Hannasch paced the Aztec attack with five kills while Kristina Graven led St. Mary's with seven.

In the fifth and deciding set, the teams fought to a 6-6 tie before St. Mary's opened up a 10-7 lead and looked to be in control of the contest. But a kills by Shelton and three straight Gaels hitting errors gave the Aztecs an 11-10 advantage. After an SDSU attack error toed the set at 11-11, the teams traded points to make it 12-all. From there a blocks, Aztec hitting error and a blocking error gave St. Mary's the final three points it needed to win the set and match.

San Diego State thus concludes its most successful campaign in recent memory. The Aztecs' 23 victories during the 2012 campaign were the most for the team since the 1995 squad recorded 27 wins. SDSU placed three players on the all-conference team and had the league's Setter and Newcomer of the Year. In addition Head Coach Deitre Collins-Parker was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year.