Volleyball Pulls Upset of Day at WAC Tournament

Las Cruces, N.M. The upset-minded Spartans pulled off another big win at the 2007 Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament Thursday evening.  Entering the tournament as the sixth-seed, San Jose State need five games and a couple of big comebacks in an upset of third-seed Utah State, 24-30, 30-28, 19-30, 30-28, 17-15.


Niki Clement, a second team All-WAC selection, led the Spartans in kills with 21 and was one of four players with four blocks in the match.  It is the third time this season that Clement has recorded 20 or more kills in a match.  She also had her 14th double-double of the season with 15 digs.


Three other Spartans recorded 10 or more kills in the match.  Keri Anglin, a second team All-WAC pick tied her career high with 17 kills and hit .333.  She had four blocks and six digs in the win.  Colleen Burke, a first team All-WAC selection, had 15 kills and led the Spartans in hitting with a .355 percentage.  She recorded three blocks and added two digs.  Kelly Crow added 10 kills and 18 digs for her third double-double of the season.


Emily Burke again had a solid match at setter for the Spartans.  She recorded her team-high 16th double-double of the season and her fourth match with 60 or more assists.  Burke ended the night with 63 assists and 10 digs and contributed three blocks and three kills in the victory.


Others contributing for San Jose State included Brianna Amian who came off the bench and had six kills, four blocks and two digs.  Nia Freeman added one kill, one block and a dig.  Kristal Tsukano had seven digs, while Courtney Zellmer added six digs, an assist and a service ace.


“This was a great match to coach tonight,” said San Jose State head coach Oscar Crespo.  “Utah State is a fantastic team and a tough team to face.  They pushed us, and we stayed composed on the court tonight.  We saw how they played against Hawaii (in a 3-0 upset in Honolulu Sunday) and knew we had to take it one point at a time.  We could not live and die in the moment.”


After losing game one 30-24, San Jose State battled tough with Utah State in game two.  The Spartans took the lead for good at 11-10 on a Colleen Burke kill.  The Spartans led by as many as five points in the game, and Utah State got as close as 29-28 at the end of the game before an Anglin kill gave San Jose State the win.


Game three belonged to Utah State as the team got out to a 10-5 lead before a San Jose State timeout.  The Spartans got within three at 12-9 on another Anglin kill, but the Aggies recorded three consecutive service aces and a few Spartan errors led to a 19-9 lead for Utah State.  The Aggies maintained the lead and won the game, 30-19.  San Jose State hit just .088 in the game.


San Jose State fought back from a five-point deficit late in game four.  The Spartans trailed 26-21 before the team took a timeout.  After the timeout, the team slowly chipped away at the lead with kills by Clement and Anglin and a block by Clement and Amian to make the Aggie lead to just 27-25, which forced a Utah State timeout.  After the timeout, Clement and Freeman recorded a block, and Utah State got a kill from Danielle Taylor to make the score 28-26.  Clement then recorded back-to-back kills to tie the game at 28-28.  A block by Clement and Emily Burke gave the Spartans game-point, and Colleen Burke put the ball away for the 30-28 win for San Jose State.


“During the timeout (at 26-21), it was the first time this season that I could tell we were not ready to give up,” said Clement.  “It showed in our faces, and no one was scared even though we were down.”


With the New Mexico State crowd cheering them on, San Jose State came out strong in game five and sprinted out to a 10-5 lead on four Clement kills.  After a timeout by Utah State, the Spartans maintained its lead and had match-point an Amian kill.  With the NMSU crowd rising to their feet, San Jose State allowed three kills by Utah State and had two attack errors to let the Aggies tie the game at 14-14.  After a kill by Anglin made the score 15-14, a Clement hitting error tied the game at 15-15.  Amian recorded her sixth kill of the night to give the Spartans a 16-15 lead, and Aggie Melissa Osterloh had a hitting error to give San Jose State the 17-15 game-five win.


“We stayed in control during the match and stayed close enough with Utah State to win,” said Crespo.  “We have played fantastic the second half of the season.  We are working together as a team and not playing as individuals.  Our passing has also improved and helped us tonight.”


San Jose State is no stranger to upsets as the sixth-seed at the WAC Tournament.  In 2003, the Spartans pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history as the team defeated third-seed Fresno State in the quarterfinals and second-seed SMU in the semifinals.  San Jose State lost to Hawaii in the championship match, 0-3.  San Jose State has advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the sixth time in school history and for the second consecutive season.  The Spartans have played in the championship match twice, 2001 and 2003, falling to Hawaii 3-0, both times.


The Spartans enter Friday night’s semifinal match with a 14-14 record.  The team will play second-seed New Mexico State at 7:30 p.m. MST.  Top-seed Hawaii and fourth-seed Nevada will play in the first semifinal at 5:00 p.m. MST.


San Jose State def. Utah State 24-30, 30-28, 19-30, 30-28, 17-15.


Kills San Jose State Niki Clement 21, Keri Anglin 17, Colleen Burke 15, Kelly Crow 10.


Utah State Amanda Nielson 27, Melissa Osterloh 13, Monarisa Ale 12.


Records San Jose State 14-14; Utah State 17-13.


Friday Schedule Semifinal Matches

5:00 p.m. Hawaii vs. Nevada

7:30 p.m. San Jose State vs. New Mexico State


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