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Aggies spike the Utes in 3 straight

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Utah State volleyball players celebrate an unexpected three-game sweep of Utah Tuesday in Logan.

Utah State volleyball players celebrate an unexpected three-game sweep of Utah Tuesday in Logan.

Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

LOGAN — As expected, Tuesday's volleyball match between the Utah State and Utah went three games. It was Utah State, however, that walked away with the unexpected 32-30, 30-23, 32-30 non-conference victory.

"We're underestimated in a lot of situations, but we're used to being a little underrated," Utah State sophomore Ingrid Roth said. "That's the kind of stuff that gives you a little fire."

The win shouldn't come as a surprise to many because the Aggies are downright stingy at home. Over the last four years, the Aggies are 32-11 (.744). Against non-league opponents, including Utah Tuesday, the Aggies have won their last seven matches. Their last non-league home loss was to Weber State in 2000.

"We're really happy. I wouldn't say we're surprised," Utah State coach Burt Fuller said. "I think at times we can play pretty well. We're happy because we beat a pretty good team."

The win snapped a three-match Utah winning streak, which included a 3-0 win last year in the regular season, and a 3-1 win in the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament.

Utah State's last home win over Utah was in four games on Oct. 10, 2000.

"We've always gone to their house and played the past three years," Utah State freshman Beth Hodge said. "To have them come here and beat them, it was a huge win for us."

Utah coach Beth Launiere didn't take the Aggies (8-4, 1-1) lightly.

"People don't understand how hard it is to win on the road in Div. I athletics," she said. "We are both good team and you put them at home and it's a big plus for them for sure."

In Utah State's eight victories it has lost only three games. At one point the Aggies swept Oral Roberts, Weber State, Idaho State and Alabama.

Tuesday, the Aggies led by six points on two different occasions in the first game. Behind the serving of Kelsie Kartchner, the Utes (6-5) tied the score at 16-all.

The Aggies, who have 10 freshmen and sophomores on their 13-player roster, rallied to take a 26-20 lead before all-American candidate Kim Turner served six of the next seven points to give the Utes the one-point lead. Utah State got big kills down the stretch from sophomore Zuzana Cernianska and two straight service points from Roth to close out Game 1.

"It (the Game 1) win was really big for us," Hodge said. "Once you win the first game you know you can do it, you have to just push the rest of the way."

That's exactly what the Aggies did.

Utah State dominated the second game. The Utes led 1-0 and 2-1, but after regaining the lead at 3-2, the Aggies never let go of it, leading by as many as seven points.

Neither team took more than a three-point advantage in the final game. The lead changed hands or was tied 22 times.

Again, Cernianska had three big kills at the end and Roth and Mari Ruddick combined for a block to give USU the one-point advantage. Roth and Cernianska combined for the game-winning block to close out the match.

"Obviously, you get excited when you beat a good program, and Utah over the last number of years has been a real quality program," Fuller said. "For us to get a win over them up here is really nice."

The Aggies held Turner in check with just nine kills in 25 attempts.

Middle blockers Roth and Erin Cartwright-Davis had hitting percentages of .429 and .423, respectively, to lead the Aggies.

Andrea Delsigne led the Aggies with 43 assists. Entering Tuesday's match she was ranked third in the nation in assists per game with 14.2.

Utah State will jump back into Big West action play Friday when it hosts Idaho. Conference play continues for the Aggies with home matches with Long Beach Oct. 2 and Irvine Oct. 4.

Utah, the Mountain West Conference tournament champions, opens league play this weekend when it hosts Wyoming Friday and Colorado State Saturday at Crimson Court.