Utah State volleyball clinches share of MW regular season title with sweep over New Mexico – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State volleyball (20-5, 13-1 MW) clinched at least a share of the Mountain West regular season title after sweeping New Mexico (17-8, 9-5 MW) inside the Wayne Estes Center on Saturday. It is the Aggies’ third-straight championship after sharing the MW regular season title in 2021 and winning the MW tournament in 2022.

“That was awesome to get a win,” head coach Rob Neilson said. “That’s a really good defensive team and we put on a show offensively in a lot of ways. This is just a really tough group. A resilient group. We had some players who haven’t played in a while out on the court playing and they did a phenomenal job. It’s really a blessing to have so much depth and so many good players in the gym. I’m really proud of our group.”

The Aggies are now one win away from becoming the outright regular season Mountain West champions. USU will have an opportunity to claim the title on Monday, Nov. 6, when Utah State hosts Boise State (11-13, 7-7 MW) at 3:30 p.m., as part of the Mountain West Block Party.

“It’s exciting,” senior outside hitter Tatum Stall said. “There’s a big chip on our shoulder when it’s one versus two, especially when it’s in Club Estes. We had to defend our home and we did that really well today. Having a co-share, that’s not enough for us. We’re coming for Boise State hard on Monday.”

The sweep over the Lobos was Utah State’s 20th win of the season, marking the 15th time in program history the Aggies have crossed the 20-win plateau. It is the first time USU has won at least 20 matches in three-straight seasons since doing so over a six-season stretch from 1977-82.

Both Utah State outside hitters logged double-digit kills in the sweep as Stall had 21, the most by an Aggie this season, while graduate senior Shelby Capllonch had 10. Sophomore Leah Wilton-LaBoy logged her third double-double of the season with a match-high 22 assists and 12 digs. Junior setter Beatriz Rodrigues finished the match with 18 helpers. Senior middle blocker Kelsey Watson was involved in all six of USU’s blocks, logging one solo and five assists.

A 5-0 Aggie run, highlighted by kills from Stall and sophomore opposite side hitter Kaylie Ray, along with a Watson and Ray block, gave USU a 7-3 lead in set one. After New Mexico came back to tie it at 8-each, a 7-2 Utah State spurt, capped by a Stall hammer, gave the Aggies a 16-11 advantage. USU maintained the distance as a Capllonch kill gave Utah State set point before a Lobo attack error secured the 25-17 Aggie victory.

A block by Watson and junior opposite Adna Mehmedovic capped an early 3-0 Aggie run for the 5-2 lead in set two. Three-straight kills from Capllonch, Ray and freshman libero Kambree Rodriguez later extended the lead to 11-6. New Mexico came back to tie at 14-all before the teams began trading points. A Ray kill gave USU set point 24-21, but UNM responded with a 3-0 run to tie it. Stall ended the run with a kill to give the Aggies set point once more and a Lobo attack error secured USU’s 26-24 win.

After some back and forth to open set three, a 9-3 USU run, bookended by Stall kills, gave Utah State a 12-6 edge. A 4-0 spurt, capped by a Ray hammer, later extended the lead to double digits 18-8. It was then New Mexico’s turn for a run as the Lobos cut the lead to 22-20. However, that would be it for UNM as three-straight kills from Mehmedovic and Stall clinched the sweep with a 25-20 victory.

Overall, USU hit .330 (54-16-115), while UNM hit .136 (31-17-103).

Tickets for the 2023 Utah State volleyball season are on sale now.

Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program on Twitter, @USUVolleyball, on Facebook at /USUVolleyball or on Instagram, @usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter, @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and on Instagram, @USUAthletics.

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