LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Behind 13 kills from sophomore opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen and 12 from junior outside hitter Liz McArthur, Utah State completed its run to the NCAA Tournament by sweeping No. 3 Hawai’i (25-15, 27-25, 26-24) here Wednesday to win its first-ever WAC Tournament Championship. The Rainbow Wahine entered the match having won 59 straight sets and 22 straight matches. Utah State, the third seed in the tournament, becomes only the third team to ever win the WAC Tournament Championship as Hawai’i had won 10 straight tournament titles prior to this year, while BYU won the first two. USU is now 5-4 all-time in the WAC Tournament and 1-1 in the title match as it lost to Hawai’i in 2005. Utah State, who has won nine of its last 10 matches, improves to 24-8 on the year with the win. Those 24 wins are the seventh-most in school history and the most since the 1982 team finished with a 29-20 record. Hawai’i falls to 28-2 on the season with the loss. It is the second time in four years that USU seniors Katie Astle, Chelsea Fowles and Christine Morrill have defeated Hawai’i, as the Aggies swept the Rainbow Wahine on the Islands back in 2007 snapping an 108-conference match home winning streak for UH. Utah State will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-time in school history as it advanced to the second round in 2000 and 2001, and lost in the first round in 2005. All-time, USU is 2-3 in NCAA Tournament play. Sorensen (North Odgen, Utah) hit an amazing .684 (13-0-19) in the match for Utah State Wednesday, while McArthur (St. George, Utah) added seven digs and hit .211 (12-4-38). Sophomore outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah) finished with nine kills and six digs, while senior middle blocker Shantell Durrant (American Fork, Utah) had four kills and eight blocks. Kanani Danielson had 20 kills and 12 digs to lead Hawai’i. Hawai’i scored the first two points of the match and held an 8-5 lead before Utah State went on a 12-4 run to take a commanding 17-12 advantage en route to its 10-point win. Sorensen and Durrant each had three kills in the set for Utah State as it hit .242 (11-3-33) and UH hit .081 (12-9-37). Hawai’i regrouped in the second set and led 21-15 only to see Utah State score 12 of the final 15 points for the improbable come-from-behind two-point win. White led USU with six kills in the second set, while McArthur and Sorensen each had five. The Aggies hit .342 (17-4-38) here and the Rainbow Wahine hit .333 (18-6-36). Utah State jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the third set and never trailed despite Hawai’i forcing three ties including the final time at 24-24. From there, USU got back-to-back kills from senior middle blocker Katie Astle and Sorenson to complete the sweep. Utah State finished the match by hitting .301 (45-11-113) and Hawai’i hit .235 (50-22-119). USU also had seven more team blocks (11-4) and six more service aces (6-0) in the match, while UH had six more digs (46-40) and one more service error (4-3). Utah State will now wait to find out where it will travel to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. (MT) on ESPNews.
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