Ruston, La.The Spartan volleyball team had to overcome adversity and an early 1-0 deficit and had to go five sets at Louisiana Tech, but San Jose State won the Western Athletic Conference match 9-25, 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 15-8, Thursday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Without starting outside hitter Kelly Crow, the Spartans relied more on Brianna Amian on the outside. She led team with 16 kills on a career-high 62 attempts. She also recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 13 digs and added three blocks and two service aces.
Nia Freeman also had to make a switch near the beginning of the match after an injury to Kylie Miraldi. Freeman tied her season-high with 12 kills on 27 attempts and four blocks.
“Nia played very nicely for us in the middle tonight,” said San Jose State head coach Oscar Crespo. “She played with determination tonight and was a leader on the court for us. She took charge and gave us another option on the floor. Nia was composed and focused to win.”
Kristal Tsukano started the match at libero, but she found herself starting on the outside in the second set. She played the final four sets on the outside and recorded a career-high 11 kills on 27 attempts and only two errors to hit .333. Tsukano was one dig away from her first double-double with nine digs and added two aces and a block. Tsukano also moved closer to 1,000 career digs as she now has 993 heading into Saturday’s match.
Colleen Burke recorded 10 kills in the match and moved into ninth-place all-time at San Jose State with 1,155 kills. She led the team with five block assists and now has 273 for her career. Burke now needs just six block assists to tie for seventh all-time with Kim Hicks at 279.
Defensively, two Spartans led team by recording 20 or more digs. Thao Pham started the match at defensive specialist and moved to libero in the second set when Tsukano moved to the outside. Pham recorded a career-best 21 digs with one ace and one assist. Courtney Zellmer also played in all five sets and had a career-high 20 digs along with one assist.
“Our defense kept us in the match tonight,” said Crespo. “Thao and Courtney did a very nice job for us. Our ball control was a key in our victory tonight.”
Others contributing included Emily Burke who came off the bench and recorded 39 assists, six digs, two blocks and two kills. Sarah McAtee played in four sets and had two blocks and a dig. Amber Biddle played in the fifth set and had a key block in the Spartan win.
San Jose State is now 12-15 overall and 7-8 in the WAC. The team next plays at New Mexico State Saturday night at 7 p.m. MST.
San Jose State def. Louisiana Tech9-25, 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 15-8.
Kills San Jose State Brianna Amian 16, Nia Freeman 12, Kristal Tsukano 11, Colleen Burke 10.
Louisiana Tech KC Clayton 9.
Records San Jose State 12-15, 7-8; Louisiana Tech 4-22, 0-15.
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