LOGAN — Utah State volleyball became the first Aggie squad to host a Mountain West Conference event and made it a memorable one with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-20) sweep against Boise State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Aggies improve to 7-4 overall and 1-0 in MW action, winning their inaugural match in their new conference. The Broncos fall to 5-5 and 0-1 in league play. Since 1990, USU is now 11-13 in conference openers, two of those wins coming against Boise State. Utah State has won 15 of the last 18 meetings, including winning the last 10 in a row in Logan, and cut BSU’s lead in the overall series to 18-15.
Senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) led the squad with a career-high .526 attack percentage (10-0-19) in posting her sixth match with double-double kills this season.
Sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) led USU with 11 kills while junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) posted 10 kills.
Senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) led all players with a career-high 10 blocks assists, just two less than the Broncos had as a team. Brainard also added eight block assists as the Aggies ended the sweep with 15.0 team blocks, recording double-digit blocks for the sixth time in last seven matches and eighth time overall.
The Aggies’ blocking attack limited BSU to a .055 (34-28-109) attack percentage, a new season low for an Aggie opponent, and the second time holding the opposition under .100. USU hit .281 (39-14-89) for the match.
VanHoff added one solo block and four block assists for five total blocks. With four block assists, VanHoff now has 299 career block assists, needing one more to become the sixth player in USU history to reach the 300 career plateau, as well as tying Shantell Durrant (2008-10) for No. 5 on the Aggies’ career block assists list.
Junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) led all players with nine digs. Etimani notched eight digs, as well as junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.), who also led both teams with 35 assists.
Boise State was led by Alyssa Gammel’s 10 kills while Sarah Baugh recorded 16 assists. Hannah Hubbard posted eight digs, and Maddy O’Donnell notched three block assists.
Utah State took the lead at 8-7 and did not relinquish the advantage for the remainder of the set. Boise State got one back before USU rattled off six-straight points to take a 14-8 advantage on a tandem block by Everett and Brainard. The Aggies stretched the gap to 18-11 after a VanHoff kill and cruised to the 25-17 set win after a VanHoff solo block.
Set two started like set one with the teams fighting for points. After playing 10 points without either team taking more than a two-point advantage, a Broncos’ service error gave the Aggies a 7-4 lead. Boise State chiseled away at the USU lead, even taking a brief 8-7 advantage. Once BSU tied the score at 17-17, the Aggies never looked back again, taking the second set at 25-21 after an Etimani kill.
Boise State came out strong in set three taking a 6-3 lead after a Aggie service error. After the lead changed hands back-and-forth, USU pulled away from an 18-18 gridlock with three unanswered points, and BSU didn’t get within two points. There were 14 lead changes in set three and 11 ties in the frame alone. The Aggies buckled down, scoring the final three points in the stanza, to earn the 25-20 set-three win and sweep the match.
The Aggies and Broncos don't have much time away from each other as the teams will have a rematch in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at BSU’s Bronco Gym.
USU then plays at Fresno State on Thursday, Sept. 26, and at San José State on Saturday, Sept. 28, before returning home to host New Mexico on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.
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.