Victoria O’Sullivan leads Aztecs with 17 kills
Video courtesy goaztecs.com
October 8, 2021 (San Diego) - The San Diego State volleyball team built a 2-1 lead in sets on Thursday but was unable to close out visiting Fresno State, falling in a 3-2 heartbreaker (25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 12-15) on Aztec Court at Peterson Gym.
For the second straight match, the Aztecs maintained the statistical advantage in kills (62-56) and digs (74-56) but came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard, slipping to 5-13 on the season and 2-4 in Mountain West action.
Despite out-hitting the Bulldogs .247 to .201, SDSU was out-blocked by a 15.0 to 8.0 margin and trailed in service aces (9-4), as Fresno State won its third straight, improving to 7-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
The Aztecs combined for a .289 efficiency over the first three sets, including a .520 clip in the third frame when they knocked down 16 kills on 25 attempts with just three errors. However, SDSU could not pull away in the fourth stanza despite posting more kills (15-9). Conversely, Fresno State benefitted from eight Aztec attack errors and three wayward serves in the set while out-blocking the Scarlet and Black 5.0 to 2.0 to steal the momentum.
Individually, SDSU’s O’Sullivan’s led all players 17 kills, while Mikela Labno finished with 12 put-aways of her own. Defensively, four Aztecs surpassed double figures in digs, including Heipua Tautua’a (8 kills), who tied for match-high honors with a season-best 17 scoops, followed by Natalie Smith (15), Noa Miller (13) and Kennedy Feuerborn (10). Miller recorded her second straight double-double after handing out a match-high 27 assists to go with a personal-best six kills, while Jordyn Goldsmith logged a team-high five blocks, including a solo stop.
On the flip side, the Bulldogs were paced by the trio of Savanah Smith, Amaria Kelley and Desiree Sukhov, who combined for 40 of the team’s 56 kills. Smith accounted for 15 of those put-aways, while Kelley launched 14 non-returnables of her own. Not to be outdone, Sukhov registered a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs while contributing six block assists. In addition, Kasey Purry was a forced to be reckoned with at the net after totaling nine blocks, including a solo stuff, while Kelley contributed five stops as well.
The teams combined for 12 ties and six lead changes in the pivotal fourth set, where Tautua’a led the Aztec offense with four kills, while Miller and Walker collected three apiece. SDSU seemed poised to close out the match after building a 18-14 advantage following a Zoi Faki service ace. Fresno State remained within striking distance, though, trimming the margin to 19-18 with the help of Sukhov, who floored a shot and joined forces with Purry on a block, while Grace Doyle served up an ace.
Moments later, the Aztecs reclaimed a three-point bulge at 21-18 after consecutive kills by Walker and Feuerborn. However, the Bulldogs would not go quietly, crafting a timely 5-1 surge to vault in front 23-22. Fresno State was gifted three points on two wayward SDSU attacks and a ball-handling error, while Ella Rud knocked down a kill and combined with Purry on a block. The Aztecs knotted the score shortly thereafter at 23-23 on a Walker blast but could not regain the upper hand, as back-to-back kills by Smith and Kelley allowed Fresno State to escape with the set.
Stung, SDSU found itself in pursuit mode for the fifth and final set after falling behind 7-2. The Aztecs could not avoid the defensive exploits of Purry, who combined with Kelley and Smith on a pair of block assists during that span while adding a solo stop. In addition, Smith, Kelley and Sukhov each contributed a kill while the Scarlet and Black shot itself in the proverbial foot with a service error.
SDSU flashed its resiliency with a 10-7 run that trimmed the deficit to 14-12, aided by three O’Sullivan kills, two by Labno and one each by Tautua’a and Walker, who also teamed with Feuerborn on a block during that stretch. However, the rally proved too little too late, as a Smith kill ended the match shortly thereafter.
Earlier in the evening, the second stanza was another see-saw affair, as the two sides witnessed nine ties and three lead changes. SDSU had a chance to build a commanding 2-0 lead in sets after a Goldsmith kill knotted the score at 20-20, but the host school could not hold serve. Smith soon launched a kill, while Purry followed with consecutive put-aways, giving the visitors the lead for good.
San Diego State will have an open date on Saturday before hitting the road for a pair matches next week, traveling to Boise State on Thursday, Oct. 14, followed by an excursion to Utah State two days later on Oct. 16.