The Aggie volleyball team dominated the first two sets against San Jose State on Thursday night winning 25-11 and 25-16 and looked to be well on their way to a quick night. However, San Jose State had other plans. The Spartans regrouped coming out of intermission and dominated the Aggies in set three winning 25-19, just their 10th set victory this season.
The Spartans, having tasted their first set victory over the Aggies since the 2005 season wanted more. SJSU started the match by jumping out to a 7-1 lead. The Spartans would push their lead out to seven points at 11-4 before the Aggies would go on a 7-4 run to cut the deficit to 14-11. A quick timeout by San Jose State appeared to calm the Spartans' nerves as they rattled off three straight points to push the lead back out to six points at 17-11. The Aggies cut the Spartans' lead to 20-15 and then the teams traded the next six points as SJSU lead 23-18 and appeared ready to push the match to a fifth set. However, the Aggies would respond.
After a kill by the Aggies' Kayleigh Gidddens cut the Spartans' lead to 23-19, sophomore setter Jennah DeVries came up to serve and with DeVries on serve the Aggies would win the final six points of the set to escape from Spartan Gym with a 25-23 set victory and a 3-1 match victory.
"Give San Jose credit. After the first two games, they did not quit," said head coach Mike Jordan after the match. He added, "They [SJSU] just took it to us in game three, just like we took it to them in game one."
Senior middle hitter Erin Birmingham had a career night offensively recording 12 kills on 20 swings with just one attack error for a .550 hitting percentage. Birmingham also added eight block assists. "We couldn't set her enough and she blocked the ball pretty well too." Offensively she was really good and Jennah found her in transition and she did a great job for us," said Coach Jordan of his senior middle. He also was very happy to see her step up in the timeouts in a leadership role. "I was really fired up for her that she really got upset at her teammates for what was going on out on the floor. That toughness is something we need more often."
Fellow middle hitter Kelsey Brennan was equally effective for the Aggies recording 11 kills on 19 swings with just one hitting error to finish with a .526 hitting percentage. Brennan was also a major factor on the block as she finished with two solo blocks to go along with four block assists.
Kayleigh Giddens finished with a match high 13 kills on 39 swings with six attack errors for a .179 hitting percentage. She also added 10 digs to record another double-double on the season. She finished with a solo block and two block assists.
The Spartans were led by Alex Akana who finished with 12 kills on 25 swings with five attack errors for a .280 hitting percentage. The Spartans' 5' 3" libero Kristal Tsukano finished the match with six kills on 24 swings with eight hitting errors. The senior libero has been forced into playing as a hitter due to injuries in the Spartan lineup.
The Aggies improve to 6-1 in conference play and 11-6 overall. The Aggies will need to find more consistency as they head off to face No. 3 Hawai'i on Saturday night. "We've been challenging our team to play a more consistent match and we didn't do again." He added, "Once San Jose started playing well they were the more aggressive team and we got in our heads for an extended period of time and had some bad performances by a couple of people."
On Saturday Hawai'i head coach Dave Shoji will attempt to become just the second Division I coach to win 1,000 or more matches.