Unlucky in 5 — Vandals waste opportunity to take first place
The Vandal volleyball team had an opportunity to move into first place in the WAC Thursday night, but Utah State successfully defended its No. 1 spot with a 3-2 win over Idaho in Memorial Gym.
Idaho came into the night riding the momentum of six straight wins that started the last time the Vandals played Utah State, but it was the Aggies who emerged victorious this time to stay atop the conference standings.
Junior Allison (Walker) Baker said the Aggies were better than the last time they saw them.
“They’ve definitely gotten better, but we didn’t play as well as we can,” Baker said. “We had an off-night —not to give any excused.”
Idaho will try to get back on track Saturday night when they return to Memorial Gym where the Vandals will attempt to in San Jose.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said it was a match her team should have been able to pull out.
“The bottom line is now we just have to win,” Buchanan said. “Every match you lose is a missed opportunity. It doesn’t matter if it’s for first place, it’s every time. I think we definitely had the opportunity in game four.”
After giving up the first two points of the first set, the Vandals went on a 6-0 run, built a lead and never trailed the rest of the match, winning 25-19. The Vandals used another 6-0 run to build a lead in the second, but this time the Aggies responded and out-hit Idaho down the stretch to take the second 25-21 to go into the break tied.
The Vandals came out of the break on fire and, with the help of two service aces in a row from senior Ryann Carter, went on an 8-0 run. The Aggies once again hung tough and brought the score close again. The Vandals’ effort was helped along when Utah State coach Grayson Dubose was red-carded for arguing a call, which resulted in one point for Idaho. The Vandals were able to finish off the set 25-21 to take a 2-1 lead.
The Aggies responded in the third, winning the back-and-forth set to setup a fifth and final set.
Buchanan gave Utah State credit for fighting to the very end.
“They hung in there and they finished till the end,” Buchanan said. “For game five that’s a poor performance for us to give up that many errors.”
Unfortunately for Idaho, the fifth set was all Utah State. The Aggies seized momentum early and built an insurmountable lead to win the set 15-8.
Allison (Walker) Baker once again led the Vandals with 15 kills for her 36th straight double-digit kill match. Freshman Katelyn Peterson also had a solid night, contributing 13 kills while junior Ashley Christman had 11.
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org