LOGAN, Utah – Utah State women’s volleyball hosted its annual Blue-White Preview on Tuesday night with the Blue team fighting back from a first-set defeat to post a 2-1 victory. Junior outside Lauren Anderson paced the Blue team with a double-double performance of 13 kills and 13 digs in the win.
“The match really showed how much we have improved from last year,” Anderson said at the end of the night. “We were able to show off some of our new freshmen, that all have a lot of potential. It was an even match and we’ll just improve from here.”
Senior outside Kaylie Kamalu-Smith led the White team with a team-best 14 kills and coupled that with 10 digs for a double-double as White captured the first set 25-23 and took an early lead. During the opening frame, the teams battled through nine ties and six lead changes until White broke a 23-23 deadlock with back-to-back points to take the set. Junior outside Rachel Gale was responsible for both points, coupling with Lauren O’Brien for a block and then punctuating the set with a kill.
Blue used a 6-0 run in the second set to break a 3-3 tie and take a 9-3 lead, following a kill by freshman outside Ashlee Thornock and never looked back en route to the 25-19 victory. Anderson gave the Blue side its first set point at 24-17, but White was able to prolong the match two points before capitulating on a service error.
Blue, once again, used a big run in the third set, opening the frame 6-1 and ended the run with another Thornock kill, leading to a timeout by the White team. White came out of the break with a four-point swing to come to within one, 6-5, and later tied the set at 9-9. The teams then went back-and-forth between ties at 10-10 and 11-11, before back-to-back kills by Anderson gave Blue set point at 14-11. Kamalu-Smith answered with back-to-back kills of her own, to pull White within one, 14-13, but a final kill by Anderson sealed the match for Blue, 15-13.
Thornock narrowly missed double-digit kill numbers, finishing the night with nine, and was followed by Gale, junior right side Kayla DeCoursey and sophomore outside Simone Gibeau, all with seven. Gibeau was the most efficient hitter for the Aggies during the night, hitting a team-best .500 with just one error on her 12 attempts.
Senior Carly Lenzen and sophomore Lauren O’Brien tied for the lead in kills among the middles, both tallying four. Freshman middle Ashley Wesenberg led both sides in blocks, totaling five on the night.
Utah State setters rotated among both teams, as senior Erica Moscoso led the trio with 21 assists, followed by freshman Jaysa Funk with 20 and sophomore Kassidy Johnson with 17.
Defensively, sophomore Tasia Taylor led both teams with 17 digs, while senior Hannah Gleason led the Blue team with 14. Anderson followed with 13 and Kamalu-Smith and Thornock rounded out the double-digit defenders with 10 digs apiece.
Utah State will now turn its attention to the season opener on Friday, when the Aggies will travel to Corvallis, Ore., for the Ultra Ankle Challenge. USU is slated to face Oregon State, Seattle and Portland over the course of the weekend, with the first match against Oregon State set for Friday at 11 a.m.
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