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USU volleyball: DuBose named WAC Coach of the Year, Brainard tabbed Freshman of the Year

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2012 10:15 a.m. MST

Western Athletic Conference volleyball regular-season champion Utah State collected nine conference postseason awards, including Aggie head coach Grayson DuBose being named WAC Coach of the Year and redshirt-freshman Elle Brainard being tabbed WAC Freshman of the Year. Paige Neves, Rachel Orr, Shay Sorensen and Josselyn White all earned first-team all-WAC honors, while Brainard and Kaitlyn VanHoff were tabbed to the second-team. Brainard was also named to the all-Freshman team.

The all-WAC teams and awards were voted on by the league's 10 coaches and announced at the banquet Sunday night on the eve of the start of the WAC Tournament.

UTSA's McKenzie Adams was named WAC Player of the year, while teammate Annie Kunes was named Libero of the Year.

USU's three first-team honorees is the most in its eight years in the WAC and only the second time in school history to earn three first-team all-conference honors.

Utah State's five all-conference selections are also the most during its time in the WAC.

"They’re all great kids and they work hard and they really push each other every day in practice. I think if you don’t have that whole team of a compliment of great kids, then you don’t have those opportunities, so it’s a really nice thing," DuBose said.

DuBose was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the second time during his Aggie tenure, as he also collected the accolade in 2007, becoming the first volleyball coach in school history to garner conference Coach of the Year honors. Now in his seventh season at the helm of the Aggie program, DuBose has a 112-97 (.536) record. DuBose earned his 100th career win with the Aggies’ win over Seattle on Sept. 20, 2012. DuBose becomes just the second coaching position to reach 100 wins as Marilyn McReavy and Mary Jo Peppler hold the school record with 209 wins as they were co-head coaches from 1976-81. USU has won 20 matches a total of 11 times in school history, including two under DuBose in the last three years.

"It’s a humbling experience to be recognized by your peers because it means you’ve done something well. At the end of the day, if you don’t win, you don’t get those kind of awards. So thanks to the team and to my coaching staff who makes me a better coach than I am," DuBose said.

Brainard, a redshirt-freshman middle blocker (Saratoga Springs, Utah), is the Aggies' second WAC Freshman of the Year honoree, joining Chelsea Fowles in 2007. Brainard is the fourth Aggie freshman to earn the conference Freshman of the Year accolade. Brainard's all-freshman team honor is the fifth during USU's time in the WAC, joining Melissa Larson in 2006, Fowles in 2007, Emily Kortsen in 2008 and Neves last year. Brainard is the 133th all-freshman team honoree for an Aggie.

"I’m really proud of Elle. She’s never really played middle before until this year and she has really developed into a nice middle blocker," DuBose said. "It was nice for her to get recognized as well. Once again, it’s a tribute to our whole team.”

Brainard is second in the WAC in overall blocks per set (1.43), while ranking third in conference only matches (1.38). Brainard also is ninth in the WAC overall in hitting percentage (.296). With 149 total blocks, Brainard is third in the league for total blocks, as well also ranking fourth in the league for WAC only matches with 90 total blocks. Brainard is 17th in the most recent NCAA statistics with 1.44 blocks per set. Brainard now has 143 blocks on the season, moving up to No. 3 on the Aggies’ single-season block assists list and now has 149 total blocks, moving up to No. 4 on the single-season total blocks list.

"It feels really good. It was super fun and a big surprise for me, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates and my coaches. It's basically because of them. I just do what they tell me," Brainard said. "It was kind of unexpected. I really wasn't expecting anything. Grayson always says that no matter what, personal awards all go back to the team and it is so true. It's all their hard work that makes me look good."

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