In search of their first win this season, the Aggies returned home to the Estes Center to take on in-state rival Utah Valley.
Utah State is still in the hunt for that first W.
The Wolverines extended the Aggies losing streak to 11 to start the 2019 campaign with a three-set victory, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17. Utah Valley (3-8) never trailed in the third set and led for most of the second.
“Our young kids have got to stop being young kids,” USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. “They need to go be women. They need to be volleyball players that can play at a high level.”
Dropping the first set seemed to linger for the Aggies (0-11). They built a 10-4 lead as several USU players got into the action. Setter Heidi Carpenter had her only two kills during that stretch, and it was looking good for the hosts.
The Wolverines then reeled off seven straight points. Kazna Tarawhiti started it with a kill and then served up two aces.
“We’ve got to be able to stop runs a lot faster than what we are doing,” DuBose said.
The Aggies tied it up several times, but never led again in the first. UVU’s Jasmine Niutupuivaha finished off the opening set with a kill.
“Our outside hitting needs to be a lot better,” DuBose said. “We need to get a little healthier. We’ve got to be better at following a scouting report. ... We need to find a way to go make some things happen from the scouting report to the court.”
Utah State showed life to start the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead as the Aggies had three straight blocks. Opposite side hitter Bailey Downing was part of all three blocks. The junior finished with a team best one solo block and five assists, while also leading the team in kills with eight and hitting .192, also tops among USU hitters.
“Bailey (Downing) has a nice night tonight,” DuBose said. “But one kid can not get it done by themselves.”
There was no 7-0 run by the visitors like the first set, but they did string together four consecutive points to take the lead for good, 12-8. The Wolverines finished off the set with a 5-1 run.
In the third set, UVU was the team to jump out to a quick lead, building a 10-2 advantage. Midway through the set, USU came to life and scored six straight points with Madi Shepherd serving. Shepherd had one ace during the run.
That surge turned into a 9-1 spurt as the Aggies pulled within 16-15.
“We started to do some stuff,” DuBose said.
That’s as close as USU would get, though. The Wolverines finished off the set and match by scoring the final six points.
Bailey Christensen led UVU with 10 kills, while Seren Merrill had 14 digs.
The Aggies play their final non-conference match on Saturday at Weber State before beginning Mountain West play.
“We need to figure some stuff out still,” DuBose said. “... Our freshmen have got to get over being freshmen. We don’t have the luxury of a lot of upperclassmen ahead of them. They need to figure it out quick.”
Note: The match featured players on each team that began at the other school. Aggie opposite side hitter Izzie Belnap was at UVU during the 2016-17 seasons. She had three kills, four digs and two block assists. Wolverine setter Jaysa Funk Stratton was at USU for the same two seasons Belnap was at UVU. She had 12 assists and four digs.