Volleyball spiked hard by Utah State

LOGAN — If you would have told the U volleyball team before its match with Utah State that the Utes would hit .274 as a team and watch the Aggies commit 17 service errors, you probably would have seen a lot of smiling faces.

But when all was said and done, it was the Aggies that left their home court smiling with a win over their in-state rivals Tuesday night.

With the 3-1 win, Utah State extended its winning streak to six matches and beat Utah for the first time since 2003 when current Ute assistant Burt Fuller was the head coach of the Aggies. The loss was also another disappointing chapter for the Utes in their 2007 campaign.

“Utah State’s always been a tough place to win, and we knew that coming in,” U head coach Beth Launiere said. “I don’t think we competed as hard as we needed to to win up here.”

Despite witnessing the Aggies commit 11 service errors during the first two games alone, the Utes were only able to come out on top of one of those games, primarily because they had their hands full stopping Aggie hitter Amanda Neilson.

“She’s a very good player,” Launiere said. “She gets tons of sets-they run their offense through her. We knew she was going to get kills.”

The Utah State senior tallied 14 kills in the first two games alone and finished with 25 behind a .263 hitting percentage on the night. The focus Neilson garnered from the Ute blocking contingency also helped open things up for Monarisa Ale and Melissa Osterloh, who finished with 17 and 13 kills, respectively.

The Utes managed to win the first game by the score of 30-25, but were outplayed by Utah State in the second and headed into the break tied at one apiece.

With the Utes leading 17-16 in game three, Utah State managed to shift the momentum in its favor for good behind a four-point run. Despite a push from the Utes at the end, Utah State held on and took a 2-1 lead when Ale played a mishandled Ute pass and slammed it to the floor with authority.

Game four continued on much the same pace as game three, with both teams trading points. Utah broke away with a 16-12 lead midway through the game, but the Aggies pieced together a 4-0 run to tie the score at 16. Utah State managed to trade side-outs for almost the rest of the match before pulling away with their second straight 30-27 decision to clinch the match.

“We need to make some changes, we need to do what we know we can do,” U senior Kate Robison said. “We just need to be focused on what’s important and play volleyball as a team.”

The Utes were lead by Robison’s double-double (12 kills, 10 digs) and her season-high .458 hitting percentage. That performance helped lead the Utes to one of their highest team-hitting percentages of the season.

Unfortunately, Utah State combined to hit .312, which is far better than Utah’s MWC leading opponent-hitting percentage staple of .162 and easily among the highest they’ve allowed this year.

“We shouldn’t hit for .274 and lose a match,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “Because that is something we’ve been very consistent of, you know, holding opponent’s hitting percentage, and we weren’t making any stops.”

The loss also prevented the Utes from reaching the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Notes: The win also gave Aggie assistant Shawn Olmstead bragging rights at Thanksgiving dinner over his sister Heather, who is an assistant under Launiere at Utah.

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Lennie Mahler

Kathryn Haynie had 15 kills and 6 digs last night against Utah State. The Utes won the first game but then went on to drop the next three straight.