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 11:20 a.m. MDT

“I think Elle pops into my mind as the biggest surprise among the returners, only because we’re changing her position," DuBose said. "We took an all-conference middle blocker and moved her to the right side. It’s the position we recruited her in. She plays that position by default and obviously did a really nice job of it. We anticipate people to kind of attend to her. She’s new to the position, but she’s experienced it, but no one here has seen her play it.”

Fans will have to wait to see Brainard and the rest of the Aggies play at home, as they open the 2013 season with their first 10 matches away from home.

“The schedule is going to be a challenge. Integrating seven new kids with eight veterans is a particular challenge for us, and usually one of the hardest parts," DuBose said. "I like our schedule. Our non-conference schedule is going to push us. It’s going to make us better for conference play which is what really matters.”

USU tips off the season at the University of Utah tournament, facing host and in-state foe Utah in the opening match, while also facing Northern Iowa and Fairfield. The next weekend, the Aggies play at the University of Portland tournament, where they’ll face host Portland, along with Wichita State and Pacific. After a mid-week match-up with in-state foe Weber State, USU plays at a tournament at Duke University, taking on Duke, South Carolina and Liberty.

“We’re going to play Wichita State who made it to the Sweet 16 last year. Liberty is picked to win their conference, and Utah of course is tough in the PAC 12," DuBose said. "I think it’s a nice blend of teams. Playing at Duke is going to be fun. They’ve always been a nice team. I think it’s going to really challenge us to be a lot better as we start conference play. We don’t have as many weeks, we have three instead of four to play, so we’ll have to jump into conference play pretty quick here.”

Conference play and the home opener occur in the same match when USU hosts Boise State on Sept. 18, in the first of the Aggies’ 10 league home matches to go with 10 road conference contests.

“I’m excited about the travel in the Mountain West. It’s going to be not quite as exhausting. I’m looking forward to going to Colorado State, who’s always been a great team and a wonderful environment to play in. I did it years ago when I was at New Mexico,” DuBose said. “San Diego State is good, New Mexico is good. Top to bottom, it’s a real nice volleyball league.”

While the competition and travel within the new league is exciting for DuBose and the Aggies, he also has some unknowns with the new conference.

“I don’t know the league that well. I’m not that experienced with who they are, I only know the reputation the team gets,” DuBose said. “That will be the thing that’s daunting.”

DuBose will have familiar, good company with him at the table in his coaching staff, which returns in tact from a year ago in assistants Jeremiah Larsen and Taubi Neves. DuBose also added former Northern Arizona head coach Craig Choate to his staff as a volunteer assistant, who DuBose has had a long-standing friendship with over the years.

“Our coaching staff has always been a strong point of ours. Adding Craig has increased that dynamic," DuBose said. "He has 25 years of being a head coach, so he brings a different perspective and point of view which will only benefit our athletes and our staff. He’s made a great staff better.”

According to DuBose, the coaching staff will have a talented, fun group of volleyball players and hopes the fans come out and enjoy watching the Aggies.

“We’re a fun team. We’re going to do some exciting stuff,” DuBose said. “We’re going to block some balls, we’re going to dig some balls, we’re going to hit some balls. We have some fun kids to watch.”

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

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