Nevada volleyball defeats Utah State

RENO - Ask and you shall receive.

Two days ago and disappointed in the lack of attendance, Nevada volleyball coach Devin Scruggs asked for more people to experience the fun atmosphere at the Virginia Street Gym.

Her wish was granted Saturday night when 541 loud and cheering fans watched the Pack take sole control of second place with a 30-22, 24-30, 30-26 and 30-26 win over Utah State.

"We have a lot of performers and they like to play in front of a crowd," Scruggs said. "Anytime you play in front of a crowd and you jump a little higher, it just keeps the juices flowing."

Nevada improves to 7-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, 12-6 overall, while the Aggies drop into third place with a 5-2 league record, 13-8 overall.

The Pack face in-state rival UNLV Monday night at 7 p.m. in Reno. Nevada defeated the Runnin' Rebels last year in five games.

Middle blocker Salaia Salave'a's injury in the second game against the Aggies forced her Nevada teammates to step up the intensity. Salave'a fell on her left ankle early in the game and her status is day-to-day.

"They all had to step up and they did," Scruggs said. "It shows a lot of character and a lot of heart."

Teal Ericson recorded a career high 24 kills (.388 attack percentage) and Brianne Davis filled in with critical blocks and kills to help Nevada capture the third game.

"We just realize she's not coming back and we have to pull together or we're going to lose," Ericson said about Salave'a's injury. "It felt great to get that many kills."

Ericson, a junior middle blocker from Reno High School, tallied five kills in the third game, but proved to be more effective defensively.

"Brianne Davis did a phenomenal job coming in. She did on the offensive side, she did great on the blocking," Scruggs said.

Down 23-22, Davis tied the game on a powerful kill and followed with a solo block to give her team a one-point lead. Davis teamed with setter Ashley Miller, who dished out 64 assists, to earn another block at 25-23 and then pushed the ball toward the middle of the court to give Nevada a 28-24 lead.

"I really wanted to play and we were ready to go," Davis said. "We really needed that win. It was a great one."

Carly Sorensen rocketed back-to-back kills to give the Pack a two games to one edge.

The Lady Pack needed to come back in the final game after watching the Aggies take a 16-13 lead.

Utah State allowed Nevada to take the lead at 17-16 on misfired kills flying out.

Sorensen, a Fallon grad who had a negative attack percentage in the first two games, nailed her 10th kill of the game to increase Nevada's lead to five points, 27-22, and Ericson's kill prompted match point. Sorensen ended with 17 kills and a .278 attack percentage.

"She stepped it up not only on the offensive end, but on the defensive end and passing," Scruggs said of Sorensen.

Ericson, an outside hitter from North Tahoe, watched her next kill deflect out of bounds to give Nevada its eighth win in a row at home.

Ericson began the match with seven kills before Salave'a powered a game-winning kill. Salave'a finished the match with only four kills and remains six shy of 300 for the season.

Beth Hodge and Zuzana Cernianska led Utah State in the second game win with their kills. Hodge recorded eight of her 18 kills in the second game and Cernianska added 16 total.


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