LOGAN, Utah - Trailing 18-9 to Utah State in set four and 2-1 in the match, the Idaho volleyball team faced a seemingly insurmountable deficit. But the Vandals weren't fazed, as they came all the way back to win the fourth set 27-25 before rolling to their third straight win with a 15-8 victory in the decisive fifth set to win 3-2.
"It was a huge win," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. "We did it from the service line. We just kept them out of system. That was a big part of the game, the pressure we put on them from the service line."
Idaho improves to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in Western Athletic Conference play and swept the season series from the Aggies with the 24-26; 25-19; 24-26; 27-25; 15-8 win. Utah State falls to 11-15 with the loss and 6-6 in the WAC.
The Vandals got major contributions from several players. Alicia Milo racked up a career-high 28 kills and finished with 17 digs. Allison Walker had a double-double as well, with 23 kills and 11 digs. Cassie Hamilton had 23 digs and Jenny Feicht tallied 60 assists. Julia Church had six kills and seven digs and five blocks, and hit .462 in the match.
"I'll tell you what, our outsides did a great job today," Buchanan said. "I thought they were pretty exceptional. Milo kept them out of system a ton from the service line, Allison had 23 kills and Julia had a good night. I thought at the pins we did a great job."
Feicht and Milo each had three of Idaho's aces, while Janelle Chow and Amy Westberg each had one. Chow added four digs in the match, Alex Sele added six kills and three blocks, and Alyssa Schultz finished with four kills and four blocks.
The Aggies broke an 8-8 tie in set four with a 10-1 run that put them ahead 18-9 in what at the time looked like would be the decisive run. But Idaho went to work from the service line and pieced together a run of its own, a 9-1 spurt, to pull within two and gain the momentum. But Idaho's work wasn't done. The Vandals faced match-point twice, trailing 24-22, before rallying to win 27-25 and force game five.
With the momentum on its side, Idaho pulled ahead 12-4 in the fifth set before winning 15-8.
"We were down 24-23 in game four, and we made a big play to tie it up, then we made another big play," Buchanan said. "We were making a push at the end of that game, we had the momentum, we were getting points, and the fifth game for sure we had the momentum the whole time."
The Vandals hit .259 for the match with 69 kills and 25 errors on 170 attempts. Idaho also had 9.0 total blocks, 73 digs and eight aces. Utah State hit .212 with 64 kills and 26 errors on 179 attempts. The Aggies had 11.5 blocks, 63 digs and four aces in the match.
Idaho wraps up the regular season next week at Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Nevada (Nov.12), and has a chance to finish in second place in the WAC and earn a first-round bye in the WAC tournament. The tournament will be held Nov. 21-23 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.