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Aggies thump Highlanders in volleyball

September 9, 2016 GMT

It was a good way for the Aggies to start the 2016 Utah State Invitational.

The hosts had no trouble in their volleyball tournament opener Thursday afternoon against UC Riverside, which also was their home opener. Utah State didn’t trail until early in the third set, but then that was only briefly. The Aggies rolled to an easy sweep, 25-12, 25-7, 25-13.

“I thought we played well and not just because we won,” USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. “We took care of some stuff. We served well, we received the serve well, the attack was consistent and it was a well-played match.”

In the nightcap, USU dropped a heartbreaker to Portland State. The Vikings rallied after dropping the first two sets to win in five, 23-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-19.

“Portland State is a nice team,” DuBose said before the match. “They beat Colorado, who beat Penn State and Illinois last week. They are big and physical. It will be a real interesting matchup for us.”

In other action Thursday, Portland State (6-2) won in three against Southeastern Louisiana (1-7). The Lions also lost in three to UC Riverside

After jumping out to quick leads and rolling in the first two sets against the Highlanders (3-5), UC Riverside was able to take its first lead of the match, 1-0, to begin the third set. It didn’t last long.

A trio of aces by Hannah Gleason sparked a 4-0 run that turned into a 9-3 surge by the Aggies (3-5). USU never looked back in taking another lopsided set for the match. Simone Gibeau finished it off with a kill.

“She (Gleason) has a really, really nice short serve,” DuBose said. “She’s never truly felt comfortable breaking it out in a match. Apparently she did today. She had the short, deep thing going today.”

Gleason finished with a career-high seven aces as the Aggies finished with 11 as a team. The libero also had a match-best 15 digs.

Aggie outside hitter Kaylie Kamalu-Smith finished with a match-high 10 kills and hit .417 for the match. USU hit .276.

“I felt good, but it helps when we have the ability to run all our hitters because it helps our hitting percentage,” Kamalu-Smith said. “It spreads their block.”

Rightside hitter Kayla DeCoursey had eight kills, and outside hitter Lauren Anderson had six.

“(Setter) Erica (Moscoso) did a nice job of distributing the ball,” DuBose said. “I would have liked to see our middles get the ball a little more. ... It’s hard when the others are hitting well. You don’t want to mix it up too much.”

Middle blocker Carly Lenzen did have four kills, while also having a solo block and six block assists. DeCoursey had five block assists.

Against the Highlanders, USU built 7-1 and 10-1 leads in the early going of each of the first two sets. UC Riverside could never recover.

“We come into every game with the same mindset, no matter what team we are facing,” Kamalu-Smith said. “We try and take care of what is on our side of the court.”

The Aggies enjoyed big leads in all three sets.

“I thought we never allowed them (Highlanders) to get into any kind of rhythm or feel comfortable offensively,” DuBose said. “... We stayed on task for a long, long time and kept the pressure on them. That was cool.”

Maddie Day-Larsen served out the first set as USU scored the final eight points. Day-Larsen had two aces, and Kamalu-Smith finished it off with a kill.

The second set came to a end on back-to-back blocks by DeCoursey and Lenzen.

The Aggies wrap up their invitational Friday against Southeastern Louisiana. The match at the Estes Center will begin at 1 p.m.