USU volleyball: Utah State volleyball tabbed fourth in Preseason WAC Poll

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012 12:14 p.m. MDT

Utah State volleyball was picked fourth in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as selected by the league's coaches and announced Tuesday by the conference office. The Aggies received 57 points.

USU has been picked in the top four of the conference for the fourth-straight season, having been picked third in 2009, fourth in 2010 before ending the season winning its first WAC Tournament title, and then third in last season's preseason poll.

Preseason favorite New Mexico State received eight first-place votes and totalled 79 points, while Idaho was second with the remaining two first-place votes and 67 points. League newcomer UTSA was third with 58 points, followed by USU. Texas State and Denver, two new teams, were fifth and sixth with 52 and 43 points, respectively, while San Jose State was seventh with 34 points. Two other newcomers to the conference, UT Arlington at eighth with 27 points and Seattle ninth with 18 points, preceded Louisiana Tech in 10th with 15 points.

“The preseason polls are fun to look at and get people excited about volleyball. We are looking forward to starting our season and competing in a few weeks,” said USU head coach Grayson DuBose. “We have a lot to look forward to this year and we will continue to improve as the season progresses.”

The coaches also voted on the preseason award winners. New Mexico State's Meredith Hays was the pick for the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. Utah State had two players on the preseason team in senior opposite hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah) and senior outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah). Sorensen earned second-team all-WAC honors last season.

“I am pleased that Josselyn White and Shay Sorensen were recognized by the conference coaches," DuBose said. "It is a tribute to their hard work and the hard work of their teammates."

NMSU placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with three, while Idaho, UTSA and Utah State had two apiece. Joining Sorensen, White and Hays on the preseason team are NMSU's Lauren Loerch and Desiree Scott, Idaho’s Alex Sele and Allison Walker, UTSA’s McKenzie Adams and Whitney Walls, Denver’s Faimie Kingsley, San Jose State’s Alex Akana and Texas State’s Amari Deardorff.

The 2012 season begins the weekend of Aug. 24 with all 10 teams in action. The 2012 WAC Volleyball Tournament, hosted by UTSA, will be Nov. 19-21, at the Convocation Center in San Antonio, Texas, and will include the top eight teams in the regular-season standings. The championship match will be televised live on ESPNU.

DuBose opens his seventh season at the helm of the Aggie program, and returns five starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team that went 12-17 overall and finished in a tie for fourth-place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 7-7 league record.

The Aggies officially kick off the season by hosting the Utah State Invitational, on Aug. 24-25, welcoming in-state foes Utah, Southern Utah and Weber State along with Portland.

Among those returning for USU besides Sorensen and White is sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.), who was named to the WAC's all-freshman team in 2011. Other starters returning for the Aggies include sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah) and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah).

Sorensen hit .202 last season and averaged 2.57 kills, 0.71 digs and 0.86 blocks per set. Neves ranked seventh in the WAC in assists at 8.83 per set and added 2.48 digs per set, as well as 16 service aces, second among the USU returners. White was among the WAC leaders statistically last year as she was ninth in kills (2.73), eighth in blocks (1.01) and seventh in points (3.45) per set. Rogers is the returning starter at libero, averaging 2.61 digs per set, as well as leading the team with 23 service aces a season ago, while VanHoff was fourth in the WAC in blocks at 1.19 per set.

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