The Daily Aztec

Offense, youth impress as volleyball splits Mountain West road trip

Senior+hitter+Alexis+Cage+stands+ready+at+the+net+during+SDSU%27s+loss+to+Loyola+Marymount+on+Sept.+8.
Senior hitter Alexis Cage stands ready at the net during SDSU's loss to Loyola Marymount on Sept. 8.

Senior hitter Alexis Cage stands ready at the net during SDSU's loss to Loyola Marymount on Sept. 8.

Photo by Weicheng Han

Photo by Weicheng Han

Senior hitter Alexis Cage stands ready at the net during SDSU's loss to Loyola Marymount on Sept. 8.

by Sydney Northcutt, Staff Writer

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San Diego State volleyball split a pair of Mountain West Conference matches this weekend, collecting another win against University of New Mexico in four sets (20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 27-25) and falling to University of Las Vegas in another four-set match (25-23, 22-25, 23-25, 21-25).

After the two matches the Aztecs start the new week at 3-5 in conference play and 9-12 overall.

 

New Mexico

The win against UNM featured a balanced game on all sides of the ball for the Aztecs, posting some of the best statistics of the season.

Senior outside hitter Alexis Cage led the offense with a personal season-high of 21 kills, many of which were dished by freshman setter Gabi Peoples, who finished the match with a career-high of 54 assists.

On the defensive end, junior middle blocker Deja Harris proved to be a force at the net with a career-high 11 blocks while senior libero Devyn Pritchard held down the back row with a season-best 29 digs.

Cage recognized the success she had on the offensive side of the ball, but gave credit to her back row.

“We had a great offense, but that had a lot to do with our passing,” Cage said. “We had one of our highest passing games of the year which gave us a lot of chances to diversify our offense and side out quickly.”

The first set would be the one and only loss for SDSU, battling back from two separate runs by the Lobos. However, the Aztecs were unable to come back from the final push by UNM and ultimately fell, 20-25.

After a few ties and lead changes at the beginning of the second frame it was the Scarlet and Black who found themselves on top thanks to numerous kills from Cage, Harris, and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Turnlund. However, UNM fought back to tie the game up at 22-22.

Regardless, the Aztecs were able to close out the game thanks to one of Harris’ 11 blocks.

The third set featured all SDSU offense, with a balanced attack coming from Turnlund, Cage, and sophomore outside hitter Ashlynn Dunbar. The Lobos never got within striking distance of SDSU.

The fourth and final set was much more competitive, featuring 18 ties and seven lead changes. After a pair of SDSU mini-runs toward the end of the set it was UNM who ultimately earned the first set point.

The Aztecs were quick to respond and fought back to earn their own match point, sealing the victory with yet another Harris block.

 

UNLV 

Although the Scarlet and Black out-hit and out-dug UNLV it was their attacking errors that led the Aztecs to a loss. The SDSU serve-receive also struggled at times, falling victim to six Lobos service aces.

Individually, Cage and Pritchard had another successful night, logging match highs of 16 kills and 29 digs, respectfully.

Redshirt freshman defensive specialist Sam McGrath also recorded her personal-best of 17 digs to assist in the back row.

Freshman middle blocker Erin Gillcrist, sophomore middle blocker Tamia Reeves and redshirt freshman defensive specialist Loren Teter all saw action with Gillcrist tying Harris for a team-best four block assists.

The road trip featured some new faces on the court and although the Aztecs were unable to come away with a win in Las Vegas the veterans were encouraged by the display of depth.

“Anytime young players can come in and make plays it’s great for the success of the team and for the future of the team,” Cage said.

Cage wasn’t the only veteran who noticed the young players’ contributions.

“They immediately executed the tasks that we were at the moment lacking. It was much needed at the time, and they gave the players on the court a confidence that we were starting to lack,” Harris said, “It was enjoyable to see them come in the game and successfully make a positive difference on the court emotionally and physically.”

The first set was the lone win of the night for the Aztecs, with many ties and lead changes leading up to 20-18 where the Rebels found themselves on the right side of the score. Not to be outdone however, Harris led the way with three kills in a short run that put the Aztecs on top 25-23.

In the second stanza it was the Scarlet and Black that jumped out to a small lead, only to be overtaken permanently by UNLV after a tie at 7-7. The Aztecs never trailed too far behind, however they were never able to overcome the Lobos lead and fell 22-25.

SDSU trailed for the majority of the third set, taking their first lead at 23-22. However, the comeback could not be completed as UNLV closed the set with three straight points. The Aztecs also never saw the lead in the final set but never trailed close behind. SDSU came closest late in the game trailing 20-22, but were unable to take over the lead and earn a set win.

The Aztecs will be back at home this week where they will play Mountain West opponent Boise State Thursday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Offense, youth impress as volleyball splits Mountain West road trip”

  1. Marie Therese Shaughnessy on October 17th, 2017 5:36 am

    Yay!!! Erin …… Way to block!
    So impressive to come in as a freshman and just off rehAb and contribute to the team.
    Love an ” old middle blocker”
    Marie Therese “Gillcrist” Shaughnessy

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