Behind senior outside hitter Josselyn White's match-high 14 kills and solid serving, Utah State volleyball opened the 2012 season and the third-annual USU Invitational sponsored by Gossner Foods with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-19) sweep of Portland Friday morning at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU improved to 1-0 while Portland is 0-1.
Senior setter Kassi Hargrove dished out a career-high 40 assists in stepping in for sophomore setter Paige Neves, who is out with a hand injury. White registered her 14 kills on a .500 hitting percentage (14-0-28), while fellow senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen logged nine kills (.200, 9-5-20). Redshirt-freshman middle blocker Elle Brainard also hit .615 (8-0-13) in her Aggie debut.
USU hit .333 (47-12-105) for the match, hitting .400 (15-3-30) in the second set. The Aggies posted seven service aces, including two by White as part of her serving out the last six points of set three to seal the set and the sweep. Sophomore setter Ashlan Rogers tallied three aces as part of four-straight service points during the second set as USU pulled away from an 8-6 lead to open up a 12-6 advantage.
Rogers also led the Aggies with a match-best 13 digs. Brainard logged one solo block and two block assists to lead USU to a 4.5-3.0 total team blocks.
Portland was led by Autumn Wedan and Sam Moore with nine kills apiece, as the Pilots hit .183 (34-17-93) for the match. Lexi Dempsey dished out 14 assists, while Jacky Rodriguez posted 11 digs and Christina Harris tallied two block assists.
In the opening set, the teams went back-and-forth with USU pulling away from a 19-19 tie and taking advantage of a pair of Pilot errors to win the set. In set two, Rogers' serving gave the Aggies a lead they wouldn't relinquish, stretching it to 22-11 after a kill by sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff. White ended the set with back-to-back kills for a 2-0 Aggie lead.
Set three was like the first with back-to-back rallies until USU surged from an 18-18 score behind White's serving to close out the set and the match with a 7-1 run. During that spurt, Brainard, Sorensen and sophomore outside hitter Rachel Orr all had kills before White ended it with a kill of her own.
Portland continues action Friday by facing Weber State at 4:30 p.m. The Aggies return to the court Friday night at 7 p.m. to take on in-state foe Utah. The Utes swept Southern Utah 3-0 in the other Friday morning match.
Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $1 for youth ages 3-14. The USU Athletics Ticket Office will open at 9 a.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Utah State volleyball tickets are available in person at the USU Athletics Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Live stats of every match during the 2012 Utah State Invitational are available via the USU Athletics web site at www.utahstateaggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics via GameTracker, with the links for GameTracker as well as box scores and recaps of all the matches at the Tournament Central page at http://bit.ly/NJ8loQ. Match and tournament updates will also be available on twitter at twitter.com/USUVolleyball.
The Utah State matches of the 2012 Utah State Invitational will be streamed on the Internet by clicking on the "Watch Live" link at www.UtahStateAggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics. There is a Utah State All-Access Monthly Subscription for $9.95 and a Utah State All-Access Yearly Subscription for $79.95.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.