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USU volleyball: Utah State opens 2017 with three-set sweep against Louisiana Monroe

Junior setter Kassidy Johnson sets to hit. She recorded 31 assists on 39 Utah State kills.
Junior setter Kassidy Johnson sets to hit. She recorded 31 assists on 39 Utah State kills.
Rick Parker, Utah State Athletics

Utah State volleyball opened its 2017 campaign on Friday afternoon with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-20) victory over Louisiana Monroe in the opening match of the Arkansas Classic in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Senior outside Lauren Anderson led the USU attack with 13 kills, hitting .440 (13-2-25), and was followed by senior opposite Kayla DeCoursey with 10 kills, hitting .364 (10-2-22). As a team, Utah State hit better than .300 for the match, finishing the afternoon with a .309 clip with 39 kills on 97 attempts with nine errors. In the second set alone, USU hit .542 with 14 kills on 24 attempts with just a single error.

Anderson coupled her 13 kills with 10 digs, marking the second double-double of her career. Junior libero Tasia Taylor led the Aggies’ back row with 13 digs during the match. Senior middle Carly Lenzen led Utah State at the net, totaling six block assists. Lenzen also led USU behind the service line, recording three of the Aggies’ eight service aces on the day.

“We served the ball really well today,” head coach Grayson DuBose said. “I thought we did a nice job there. Kassidy (Johnson) did a nice job distributing the ball to the hitters and was feeling it. We were able to get a few people in, which was exciting. We need to clean up our passes a little bit, but overall it was a good day.”

Utah State scored the opening point of the first set behind a kill by Anderson and never trailed. The Aggies used a six-point run to stretch an 8-5 lead into a 14-5 advantage with Anderson recording three kills, Lenzen joining for a block with junior setter Kassidy Johnson and senior outside Rachel Gale-Hammond tallying an ace. A Gale-Hammond kill gave USU its first set point, 24-17, and an attacking error by ULM during the next rally gave the Aggies the set, 25-17.

Utah State used another six-point run in the second set to overcome an early 2-1 deficit and turned it into a 7-2 lead as the Aggies recorded a pair of kills by junior middle Lauren O’Brien and kills from Anderson and DeCoursey. The margin grew to double digits, 19-9, behind another O’Brien kill and held on down the stretch as a Lenzen kill punctuated the set for the Aggies, 25-15.

The teams played through nine ties to open the third set, before Utah State broke a 9-9 deadlock with a five-point run to take a 14-9 lead behind three-straight ULM attacking errors. Another Warhawk attacking error gave the Aggies their first set point at 24-19, and a final kill by Anderson wrapped up the match, 25-20.

Louisiana Monroe finished the match hitting .123 (34-21-106) and was led by Catherine Griffith with seven kills and Kacey LeBlanc with 16 digs.

Several Aggies made their collegiate debut during the match, including freshman middle Bailey Downing (one kill, one block), redshirt freshman defensive specialist Madi Olson (one assist, three digs), redshirt freshman outside Ashlee Thornock (five attempts, one block) and redshirt freshman setter Jaysa Funk (two assists).

Utah State returns to the court Saturday, facing CSU Bakersfield at 11 a.m. MT, in the first of two matches for the Aggies on Saturday. USU will face tournament-host Arkansas later at 6 p.m., in the tournament finale.

Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.