For the second-consecutive night, the SDSU Jackrabbit volleyball team suffered a slow start in a match. However, on Saturday night against Southern Utah University, the Jackrabbits could not overcome their deficit and dropped a five set affair to the Thunderbirds, 3 games to 2. Game scores were 16-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20 and 14-16.
Southern Utah came out of the chutes quickly, scoring four of the first five points. They would not relinquish their lead in the set, led by the play of sophomore outside hitter Analaine Pelaez, whose play would become a theme throughout the night. She picked up six kills and Tess Lawrence delivered an ace to finish the set.
Game two featured more of the same from the Thunderbirds until Kelli Fiegen helped the Jacks into their first lead of the game at 13-12. The lead would be short-lived though, as Pelaez and senior hitter Jazmine Ma’afala carried Southern Utah to a two game advantage.
“We tried a different lineup tonight, thinking we might have some better matchups and really tying to focus on their great outside [Pelaez] and that gave us another offensive look to our team and it gave us more options,” said Jackrabbits head coach Nanabah Allison-Brewer.
The Jackrabbits came out of the intermission with a definite surge of energy, some coming off the bench. Sophomore Bailey Philippot, who was playing her first game as a Jackrabbit, delivered four kills in the set and the Jacks ran off seven points in a row. Sophomore hitter Kaitlin Klingemann punctuated the set with a big kill to win the game, 25-19.
Game four was in the Jackrabbits’ control most of the way with the exception of two ties. Klingemann came up with five kills in the set and senior Thyele Rechatiko assisted on 12 points, for a 25-20 victory, evening the match at two games apiece.
The fifth set was a back-and-forth affair that was expected after the first four games and was tied six times. The Thunderbirds led by two until Ketty Cornemann and Ellyce Youngren each rocketed kills to tie the game at 12. Each team made a service error on the way to a 14-14 tie. A block by Ma’afala and an Alyssa Youart kill gave Southern Utah the victory.
Fiegen and Klingemann led the balanced Jackrabbit attack with 16 and 14 kills respectively. Shay Birath had 23 digs and Rechatiko had 46 set assists.
Pelaez had a game-high 24 kills and Ma’afala also added 15 kills for Southern Utah. Both were also active on defense with 14 digs from Ma’afala and 10 digs from Pelaez.
“It’s great to have the players that are versatile and it’s promising and I think they finally realize what it takes at home and the intensity we need to bring. We did some great things and made some great plays but it’s not good enough to say we can, we need to come out consistently every time,” said Allison-Brewer.