USU volleyball: Aggies enter the MW with new teams and some familiar ones from the WAC

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28 2013 11:23 a.m. MDT

“Replacing them is hard to do. We’ll miss those guys, both four-year starters with lots of experience. You just hope that the kids who are behind them do what they need to do to be prepared," DuBose said. "As far as looking to someone, Rachel Orr comes to mind because she plays that position. We’re moving Elle over to the right side, her more natural position. Those guys will be able to step up the challenge. They stayed here all summer working out, so we’re happy about that. That second outside hitter spot is kind of up for grabs now. We’ll just have to see what happens in fall camp."

USU also returns 51.9 percent of its kills (717/1,382), 54.1 percent of its points (996.5/1,843.5), 36.4 percent of its service aces (47/129), 49.9 percent of its digs (805/1,614), 69.8 percent of its blocks (436/629) and 91.9 percent of its assists (1,175/1,279) from the 2012 season.

Utah State was the ninth-best team in the NCAA in blocking (3.0) in 2012. Individually, Brainard ranked 20th in the country in blocking (1.41) last season, while VanHoff ranked 30th in the nation (1.33). In 2011, USU ranked 10th in the NCAA in blocking, an area of the team that excites DuBose.

“It’s exciting. Teams have to attend to our block," DuBose said. "They have to know they’re going to get blocked at some point and we are good at that. We’re good at that school. They have to be aware of who we are and where our blockers are. You have to kind of understand what we’re trying to do. I think it’s a distraction for some teams."

In addition to leading the WAC in blocking (3.0) last season, USU was also first in the league in opponent hitting percentage (.158), while also ranking fourth in service aces (1.16), fifth in hitting percentage (.211), sixth in digs (14.54), seventh in assists (11.52) and seventh in kills (12.45).

In the conference individual rankings, Brainard was third in the WAC in blocking (1.41), while VanHoff was fourth (1.33). Brainard was also ninth in hitting percentage (.291). Neves was third in the conference in assists (10.16), while Rogers-Court was sixth in digs (3.72) and Orr was ninth in the league in kills (2.96).

Everett finished the 2011 season second in the WAC in blocks at 1.27 per set and is expected to return to form this season as a senior.

Besides averages, several Aggies are closing in on some USU career records list. Neves enters her junior season at No. 8 on USU’s career assists list with 1,971, needing just 29 more to become the eighth player in USU history to reach the 2,000-assist plateau.

VanHoff begins her junior campaign with 251 block assists, needing seven more to crack into the USU top-10 career list, as well as with 265 total career blocks, needing 14 more to break into the Aggies’ top-10 career list.

Rogers-Court enters her junior season with 700 career total digs, needing 81 more to crack into USU top-10 career digs list. With 300 more digs, Rogers-Court would become just the fifth player in Aggie history to reach the 1,000-career digs plateau.

While watching the veteran players continue to increase their numbers, DuBose hopes to see several newcomers contribute right away and start their Aggie careers with big numbers. USU’s roster features a good-sized number of talented, well-decorated freshmen with seven on the ledger in 2013. The seven-player freshmen class is made up of outside hitter Maddie Day (North Logan, Utah), opposite side hitter Kayla DeCoursey (Farmington, Utah), libero Hannah Gleason (Las Flores, Calif.), outside hitter Kaylie Kamalu (Kaysville, Utah), middle blocker Carly Lenzen (Cave Creek, Ariz.), setter Erica Moscoso (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and middle blocker Hannah Smith (Flemming Island, Fla.).

“We expect all of them to raise the level of play in our gym, that’s really important. We think some players that are going to be really fun to watch are Hannah Gleason; she’s a fun little spark plug kind of kid. Kaylie Kamalu will be someone people like to watch. She’s dynamic and athletic. Carly Lenzen is just a nice steady kid,” DuBose said. “All the kids we added upgraded us, so we’re really excited about that. At the end of the day, that’s the big deal, can we compete everyone we practice? I think these guys allow us to do that.”

While also expecting fans to be impressed with the newcomers, DuBose singled out Brainard as one to watch as a surprise this season, as she shifts from middle blocker to opposite side hitter position.

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