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USU volleyball: Aggies open spring action on March 23

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 1:37 p.m. MST

Utah State volleyball's spring workouts are underway in preparation for spring competition, which will consist of four weekends in a row of matches, starting on March 23. Three of the weekends will be on the road, while one will be at home.

USU will open its spring action at Weber State, starting with a controlled scrimmage, followed by a match. The next Saturday, the Aggies will participate in a spring tournament at Utah on March 30 that starts at 9 a.m. On Saturday, April 6, USU will host Idaho State in a controlled scrimmage and then a match at the USU HPER, before wrapping up spring action with a tournament at Utah Valley on Saturday, April 13, starting at 9 a.m.

“The spring is a great time to continue developing our systems both offensively and defensively," USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. "Our numbers for this spring are not large, so we have been able to really work with each athlete and refine technique in preparation for next August.”

The 2012 Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion Aggies return four starters, who were also all-WAC honorees, plus their libero from last season's squad that posted a 21-9 record. Utah State won its first-ever WAC regular-season title to go with its 2010 WAC Tournament Championship in its eighth and final season in the league before joining the Mountain West Conference next season.

The Aggies also won 20 matches for the 11th time in school history and second in the last three years, winning 24 matches in their 2010 WAC title season. USU, which was picked fourth in this year's preseason WAC poll, proved the prognosticators wrong in posting a 15-3 WAC record, setting a school-record for most conference wins, bettering the previous mark of 12 Big West Conference wins in 2001. DuBose was named the WAC Coach of the Year, joining his 2007 honor, and is the only conference coach of the year honoree in the program's history.

Headlining the Aggies' returners are junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) and junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.), who both earned first-team all-WAC honors. Neves was third in the WAC with 10.16 assists per set, while Orr was ninth with 2.96 kills per set.

USU also has two second-team all-WAC honorees returning in the middle blocking duo of junior Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) and sophomore Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah). In addition to second-team all-WAC honors, Brainard was the WAC Freshman of the Year and was also on the all-freshman team. Brainard was third in the WAC with 1.41 blocks per set, as well as ninth in hitting percentage at .291, while VanHoff was fourth in the league in blocks at 1.33 bps.

Neves moved up to No. 9 on the career assists list with 1,971, while finishing just shy of the single-season top 10 list as she dished out 1,097 helpers last season, just missing the No. 10 spot by 36 assists. Brainard moved up to No. 3 on the single-season block assists list with 150, as well as No. 3 on the total blocks list with 157. VanHoff climbed to No. 5 on the block assists list with 138, while climbing to tie for No. 5 on the total blocks list with 148.

Also returning is senior libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah), who was sixth in the WAC at 3.72 digs per set, as well as seventh in service aces at 0.25 per set with 28 total. Rogers posted 413 digs last season, for the No. 6 spot on the Aggies' single-season digs list.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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