A few tears didn’t get in the way of the task at hand Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State honored three seniors in the volleyball home finale before a Western Athletic Conference match with Texas State. The trio all played a role in the Aggies Senior Night sweep of the Bobcats in front of 900 fans, the second largest crowd of the season.
Kassi Hargrove, Shay Sorensen and Josselyn White even got to turn the A atop Old Main blue following the 25-16, 25-19, 25-21 victory.
“It was definitely an emotional roller coaster,” Sorensen said. “It’s sad because it’s our last game in the Spectrum, but we have to really stay focused because we still have the (WAC) tournament coming up.”
With the win, USU reached 20 wins for the season. The Aggies end the regular season at 20-8 overall and 15-3 in WAC play.
“It’s always nice to win on Senior Night,” USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. “Those three have accomplished a lot at Utah State. That was their 71st win. That’s pretty impressive. ... Reaching 20 (wins) is a neat milestone. It shows the progress this team has made since the season started.”
Having already captured the conference regular season title, the Aggies wanted to finish on a good note Wednesday. They got to celebrate and take photos with a WAC banner after the match.
“I was a little nervous coming into this one, because I get super emotional,” White said. “It feels good to come together. We didn’t just win, we played well as a team. It’s fun to end like that, on a good note and being WAC champs.”
USU hit .347 as a team and finished with 10.0 blocks for the match. Texas State (14-15, 9-9) hit .184 and had 5.0 blocks.
White and sophomore Rachel Orr led USU with 12 kills apiece. Orr hit a career-high .600.
Sorensen had a big night as well with 10 kills, hitting .409 and recording four block assists. The opposite side hitter began the match with a kill and would break into the top 10 in career kills. Her 872 career kills is tied for ninth.
“Oh, that’s cool,” said Sorensen, when informed of the milestone. “That will give me something to look back on.”
After seven ties and two lead changes in the early going of the opening set, the Aggies took charge. An 8-0 run put the hosts in control. Sorensen was serving during seven of those points. She finished off the first set the way she started it, with a kill.
“We just wanted to make it a fun match where we compete hard,” Sorensen said. “... I just tried to live in the moment and play one ball at a time. That helped me.”
In the second set, the Bobcats built five-point leads on several occasions, the last being 14-9.
“The personality of our team is we are going to always keep working hard and keep fighting and coming back,” Sorensen said. “This will give us confidence going into the tournament.”
Elle Brainard sparked a 5-0 Aggie run with a kill, and Ashlan Rogers served up three aces as USU took its first lead of the set, 16-15. Then it was a senior time.
Sorensen slammed home a kill as the Aggies would finish off the set with an 8-2 run. White had three kills in the surge, while Sorensen had two and teamed up with Brainard for a block.
“We talked in the locker room about feeding off the emotions for positive things,” White said. “We were able to do that. We were loud and had communication. ... We did a good job of coming together and doing what had got us the lead in the first set.”
A red card on Texas State head coach Karen Chisum helped spark a 5-0 run in the early going for USU. The Bobcats would rally to knot the set at 13-13.
The Aggies used a 6-1 surged to take control and build a 24-17 lead . DuBose got Hargrove into the contest as she finished with three assists and a block assist.
“It was very exciting, bittersweet,” Hargrove said. “I’m glad I was able to get in at the end.”
The three seniors finished the night together on the court.
“It was fun; it was great that Kassi got in,” White said. “She did a great job. ... It was fun to all be out there, and Kassi got us a kill.”
Texas State did fend off four match points to make it a little interesting. However, the match came to an end on a serve into the net by the visitors.
Next up for the Aggies is the WAC Tournament, which begins Monday in San Antonio. USU will play either Seattle or UT Arlington.
“We’re regular season WAC champs, but we want a bid to the NCAA tourney,” White said. “To do that, we need to win the WAC (tournament) championship.”