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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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SDSU Volleyball

Aztecs Outlast Wyoming in Four Sets

SDSU Women's Volleyball fought for the on the road win.
By GoAztecs

The San Diego State volleyball team received double-digit kills from three players on Saturday to defeat Wyoming in a grueling four-set match (31-29, 20-25, 25-17, 26-24) at UniWyo Sports Complex.

With the victory the Aztecs (6-17, 4-8 Mountain West) snap a seven-match losing streak to the Cowgirls dating back to Sept. 29, 2018.  In addition, SDSU emerged triumphant in Laramie for the first time since Sept. 27, 2012, a span of 10 meetings.

Trailing 23-18 in the opening frame, the Aztecs dug deep and responded with a valiant 13-6 run, overcoming three set points to steal the set and give themselves much-needed momentum for the remainder of the contest.

Individually, SDSU was led by Kayla Rivera, who tied her season best with 13 kills and finished with three blocks, including a dramatic solo stop in the fourth set for the clinching point.

In addition, the Aztec cause was aided by Madison Corf's 11-kill performance, while Heipua Tautua'a and Julia Haynie recorded 10 put-aways each.

Haynie hit .474 for the day, committing just one error in 19 attempts to go with three blocks, including a solo rejection, while Mikela Labno (9 kills) compiled a .319 efficiency and contributed a career-high four block assists.

Elly Schraeder (8 kills) also came up huge defensively with seven total blocks, including a solo rejection, Ellie Geoghegan scooped up 17 digs.

Not to be outdone, Sarena Gonzalez set a personal-best with 31 assists, sharing the setting chores with Noa Miller, who just missed a double-double after dishing out 16 helpers to go with nine digs.

For just the fourth time this season, SDSU posted more team blocks, maintaining a sizeable advantage in that statistic (12.0 to 6.0) against the Cowgirls (10-14, 6-6 MW), along with a slight edge in kills (62-61). In addition, the Aztecs out-hit the host school .312 to .279.

The rather evenly matched encounter saw Wyoming hold the upper hand in digs (51-47) and service aces (6-4). However, the Cowgirls were plagued by 13 service errors and 22 errant attacks in the loss.

Naya Shimé led all players with 16 kills, while Teresa Garza launched 14 non-returnables, followed by KC McMahon (10 kills) and Tierney Barlow (.474, 9 kills, 3 block assists).

The Cowgirls need just two points to polish off the opening set after building a 23-18 advantage on a Shimé put-away. However, the Aztecs displayed their resolve with a 6-0 surge, which effectively altered the flow of the match. Tautua'a blasted two kills in that span and combined with Schraeder on a block, while a Geoghegan overpass landed in play before a Wyoming attack error.

Suddenly in front 24-23, the Cowgirls quickly turned the tables with a Hailey Zuroske service ace and a Garza kill. However, SDSU responded with a put-away from Schraeder, who also joined forces with Miller on a block, setting the stage for a dramatic finish.

The Aztecs fought off two additional set points down the stretch before crafting a 4-1 spurt to ultimately prevail in a 31-29 thriller. Trailing 28-27, the visitors received kills from Corf and Labno, sprinkled in between three untimely Wyoming attack errors.

After the sides combined for 12 ties and seven lead changes in the opening frame, the Cowgirls led throughout the second stanza, save for a pair of ties at 1-1 and 8-8. SDSU remained within striking distance at 16-15 following Schraeder's solo stop. However, the hosts kept the Aztecs at bay with a 9-5 closing run, highlighted by Shimé's three kills, while McMahon had two, including the clincher.

Unfazed, the Aztecs regrouped in the third frame, recording their highest hitting percentage of the day with a .519 clip, knocking down 16 kills in 27 attempts with just two errors. Corf hit .571 herself in that stretch with five kills on seven swings against one error, while Haynie floored four shots and added a solo block.

Still, the teams battled through 10 ties and three lead changes before SDSU vaulted in front to stay after a Wyoming service error, a Corf kill and a Tautua'a ace. Shortly thereafter, the Aztecs received two put-aways from Haynie to build a 20-16 cushion.

The Cowgirls seemed poised for a comeback following a kill by Kasia Partyka; however, the hosts shot themselves in the proverbial foot with a bad set and an unforced attack error, while Schraeder and Rivera teamed up for a pair of blocks to give the Scarlet and Black a 2-1 lead on the set scoreboard.

The fourth set witnessed another see-saw affair, as the teams combined for an additional 14 ties and six lead changes. Despite trailing in kills (14-13) and committing one more attack error (6-5), the Aztecs benefited from eight off-target Wyoming serves and held a slight advantage in team blocks (4.0 to 3.0) to close out the match.

Nursing a slim 19-16 advantage after another kill by Corf, the Cowgirls called timeout and eventually tied the score at 23-23 on the strength of three put-aways from Garza and another by Shimé.

SDSU had a chance to ice the contest after a Wyoming serve went awry; however, the hosts stayed alive on a McMahon kill, which knotted the score once again at 24-24.

Rivera took charge at the juncture, unleashing a kill before stuffing a shot from Garza on the ensuing point, as the Aztec bench erupted in jubilation.

San Diego State returns to the friendly environs of Aztec Court at Peterson Gym to open a four-match homestand, starting next week when it plays host to Boise State on Thursday, Nov. 3, followed by a clash with Utah State on Saturday, Nov. 5.