In the first start of her career, freshman outside hitter Candace Richins recorded 13 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff posted career-highs of 12 total blocks and nine kills to pace Utah State volleyball to a 3-1 win (25-19, 26-28, 25-19, 25-21) over Sacred Heart in the San Diego State Aztec Challenge.
USU won its fourth match in a row to improve to 6-1 overall, while Sacred Heart is now 1-4 on the year. Saturday was the first-ever meeting between the Aggies and Pioneers.
Richins (Kaysville, Utah) more than doubled her previous career-best of five kills by hitting .267 (13-4-30). She also notched a career-highs with nine digs and four blocks.
VanHoff (Draper, Utah) registered a career-high 12 blocks, on career-bests of two block solos and 10 block assists. VanHoff also added a career-high nine kills on a career-best .300 attack percentage (9-3-20)
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) joined Richins with double-digit kills, logging 12 for her second-straight double-figure kills outing after a career-best 17 in Friday's win over Montana. Redshirt-freshman Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) added eight kills, while hitting .615 (8-0-13), her second match of the year with an attack percentage over .600, just behind her career-best .625 in the season-opener against Portland. Brainard also had eight total blocks, while senior outside hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah) added seven blocks as the Aggies registered a season-high 20.5 total blocks.
Sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) had 38 assists Saturday morning, giving her 96 for the weekend after a career-high 58 Friday night, to become the 12th Aggie volleyball player to dish out 1,000 career assists. Now with 1,065 career assists, Neves is 74 assists from the No. 11 spot on USU's career assists list held by Heather Hillier (2005-08).
Sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah) tied a match-best by logging 21 digs, while freshman defensive specialist McKell Staheli (Pleasant Grove, Utah) added a career-high 11 digs.
USU hit .241 (51-18-137) for the match, hitting a match-best .353 in set one. Holy Cross had a .124 (53-34-153) attack percentage. The Pioneers were led by Alissa Young with 14 kills, while Elise Sage, Karly Shockey and Natalie Kridel all posted 10 kills each.
The Aggies return to the court at 8:30 p.m. (MT) to face the host San Diego State.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.