By Ashley Springer
Playing scrappier and getting the win — that was the goal.
And it was a goal the Utah State University volleyball team accomplished against the University of Nevada on Thursday night as the Aggies won 3 sets to 1 at the Wayne Estes Center.
The Aggies were coming off of a 3-0 loss against San Jose State University on Nov. 5 while Nevada was coming off a 3-1 win against Fresno State on Nov. 7. Both USU and Nevada are in the Mountain West Conference and, until Thursday, the Aggies’ only other conference game win was against San Jose on Oct. 10.
The Aggies won the first two sets 25-21 and 25-23. However, after a 3-0 start for the Aggies in the third set, Nevada took charge to win the set 25-20.
“When we struggled passing in the third set that’s when we struggled as a team,” said Rachel Gale, a sophomore outside hitter for USU.
The Aggies led 16-9 in the fourth set forcing Nevada to call its second timeout of the set. Nevada was able to come within two point, but the Aggies went on to win the set 25-20.
“The score’s 0-0, let’s go win this game, let’s go each ball one at a time, and go be gritty, go pound balls, go do what we do and go get this game,” said sophomore USU defensive specialist Maddie Day on the mindset the team had going into the fourth set.
Thursday was a career night for the Aggies. Junior USU setter Erica Moscoso had a career-high of 51 assists while Day had a career-high of 12 digs. Junior libero Hannah Gleason led the team with 23 digs and is now sixth for the highest number of digs in a single season in USU history with 434. Gale had 24 kills while junior outside hitter Kaylie Kamalu had 16.
“The thing that I really liked was our lack of errors,” said USU coach Grayson DuBose. “I thought that was huge.”
“We’ve been focusing on being gritty for the last half of the season,” Day said. “Our whole team was just determined to go dig balls and go throw your body at something and see if you can get it up. You’ll never know if you never go for something so just go try to make something happen and I think that’s what we did and it was successful for us.”
Nevada was led by junior right side hitter Madison Morell’s 24 kills and 16 digs. Setters Lyndsey Anderson and Taylar Rothfuss led Nevada in assists with 26 and 24 respectively.
The Aggies are now 2-12 in the conference and 6-22 overall while Nevada is 6-9 in the conference and 11-16 overall. The win marked the end of a seven game losing streak for the Aggies.
“I think we did a really good job at staying mentally tough this game,” Gale said.
“It’s huge,” DuBose said about the win. “We battled a little bit and it’s nice to finish this stuff out… It’s rewarding for them. They’ve worked really hard all season long.”