Utah State volleyball head coach Grayson DuBose became the second coaching position in school history to reach 100 career wins after the Aggies beat the Redhawks of Seattle in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (25-23, 27-25, 23-25, 20-25, 20-18) Thursday night at a spirited Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Thursday night was also USU's Western Athletic Conference home opener, as the Aggies improve to 3-0 in WAC play for the first time since 2005.
It is just the sixth 3-0 conference start in school history, also doing so in 2005, 2000, 1980, 1979, 1978 and 1977. The 1979 Aggie squad has the best conference start in school history with a perfect 10-0 record that year. Overall, the Aggies improved to 8-4 on the season, while improving to 7-1 in WAC home openers, winning their last four.
The coaches to do it before DuBose were Marilyn McReavy and Mary Jo Peppler. They hold the school record with 209 wins as they were co-head coaches from 1976-81. In his seventh year at the helm of the Aggie program, DuBose is now 100-93 (.518).
Seattle is 6-7 overall and 1-2 in WAC play. Thursday was the Redhawks' first visit to Logan and just the second all-time meeting with the Aggies and USU is now 2-0 against SU, also winning the 2010 meeting.
Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) was one of three Aggies in double-figure kills with 14 while senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah) added 13 and senior outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah) tallied 10. The Aggies hit .149 (57-31-174) for the match.
Sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) dished out 51 assists, breaking into the USU career assists list top 10, moving into 10th-place 1,293, passing Mindi Jackson (1995-96) with 1,280 assists. Thursday's 51 assists was her second 50+ assists outing of the season behind her career-high of 58 and was her fourth career match with 50 or more assists.
USU recorded 18 total blocks for its third-straight match with double-digit blocks and eighth this season. The Aggies were led by sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) with 10 blocks, while Sorensen and sophomore middle blocker Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) logged six blocks each.
Sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah) posted a match-high 24 digs on the night, while Neves, Sorensen and White all posted double-doubles on the night as they all had double-figure digs on the night. Sorensen registered 14 digs, while Neves and White tallied 12 apiece.
Behind 31 kills from Kaytlyn Dill, Seattle hit .126 (68-42-207) for the match. Sarah Jaeckel and Karli Pedone added nine kills each. Jacquie Brice dished out 60 assists, while Lani Beadle tallied 22 digs. Andi Lowrance and Allison Farley posted five blocks apiece.
Neves started the night off with eight-straight service points, and the Aggies jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Seattle closed to 18-15 after a USU attack error but didn't get any closer until pulling within 24-23 after a kill by Karina Miastkowska, but Brainard pounded a kill to end the set at 25-23.
The Redhawks opened an 14-8 lead in the second set after a kill by Jaeckel, but after a timeout the Aggies rallied, taking a 23-21 lead after a block by VanHoff and Orr. Seattle bounced back from a 24-23 USU lead with a Dill kill to force extra points, and the Aggies later capitalized on a SU service error followed by a Redhawks' attack error for the second set win at 27-25.
The third frame saw the lead trade back and forth, before Seattle pulled away from a 22-all tie by scoring three of the final four points, the last two on kills from Dill and Pedone to avoid the sweep. Seattle also captured the fourth set, pulling away from a 10-10 tie by scoring 10 of the next 13 points for a 20-13 lead. USU pulled within 21-16 after a kills by White and Sorensen preceded a SU attack error. The Aggies later got within 23-20 after three-straight Seattle errors, the third coming on a trio block by Orr, Brainard and Sorensen, but the Redhawks righted the ship, taking advantage of a USU error and then a kill by Dill forced the fifth set at 25-20.
In the fifth and deciding set, Seattle took an 8-7 lead at the change-over after a kill by Jaeckel. The Redhawks had match point at 14-13 on a kill from Pedone, but the Aggies sent the fifth set to extra points with a kill by White. USU had three match points, but SU couldn't bounce back a fourth time. A Redhawks service error was followed by a service ace from Sorensen to end the match in the Aggies' favor at 20-18, earning DuBose his milestone 100th career win.
USU continues it short homestand by hosting Idaho on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Idaho is 3-10 overall and 1-2 in WAC play after getting swept at San Jose State Thursday night.
Utah State volleyball tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.