Utah State volleyball will officially take to the newly-opened Kirby Court at Wayne Estes Center for the Aggies' first practice of the 2014 season on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 9:30 a.m.
Head coach Grayson DuBose is opening his ninth season at the helm of the Aggie program. DuBose and the Aggies return five starters as part of 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that logged a 20-11 overall and 13-7 mark in their first season in the Mountain West. It was USU’s second 20-win season in a row and third in the last four years, all under DuBose. After going 21-9 in 2012, Utah State has now posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2000 and 2001, when USU won 22 matches in 2000 and 20 in 2001. Overall, the Aggies registered their 12th 20-win season in school history in the 38 seasons of Aggie volleyball.
“The start of practice is always a great time of year. Everyone is excited to be back in the gym and is ready to get to work,” DuBose said.
The Aggies will be getting to work in their new digs of the Wayne Estes Center. The $9.7 million, 32,000 square-foot volleyball competition venue and basketball practice facility contains a regulation-size volleyball competition court and two regulation-size basketball courts with chairback seating for 400 fans as part of the 1,400 seating capacity, along with an athletic training room and in season strength and conditioning area. Office space for volleyball and men's and women's basketball coaching staffs is also included in the new facility, as well as a locker room and film room for volleyball. Ticketing and concession services are available on match days. Located inside the foyer of the Wayne Estes Center is a visual tribute of the building's namesake.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s been an unbelievable advantage for us. It’s great to be able to have a venue that you can call yours. It creates a nice, intimate home court advantage. The last match we played in the Spectrum was kind of bittersweet for me because we’d had a lot of success there," DuBose said, as Utah State volleyball posted a 114-47 (.709) record over the last 15 seasons at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. "That was a fun thing to be a part of, but it’s going to be neat to start a new tradition and have a home court venue that can be ours."
The team had its introductory meetings Friday, as well as getting the new gear for the upcoming season.
“New gear has been handed out, so it is like Christmas in August,” DuBose said about the Aggies' Nike apparel.
USU returns its lone all-Mountain West honoree in opposite side hitter Elle Brainard, who will be a junior. The Aggies return four other starters in senior outside hitter Rachel Orr, senior setter Paige Neves, senior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff and senior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court.
Also returning are senior opposite side hitter Jamaica Alisa, sophomore defensive specialist Hannah Gleason, sophomore opposite side hitter Kayla DeCoursey, sophomore outside hitter Kaylie Kamalu, sophomore middle blocker Carly Lenzen and sophomore setter Erica Moscoso. Outside hitter Maddie Day and middle blocker Hannah Smith redshirted last season. The Aggies also have three newcomers in freshmen outside hitters Taylor Barnson and Rachel Gale, along with middle blocker Shannon McPherron.
“As a staff, we are looking forward to working with our new players and getting them integrated with our returning ones,” DuBose said.
USU opens its 2014 season with the Blue-White Scrimmage on Tuesday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. The Aggies officially tip off the schedule by hosting the Utah State Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 29-30. USU will welcome border foe Idaho State, along with Oregon State and Saint Mary's. Action gets underway Friday, Aug. 29, with Saint Mary's taking on Oregon State at 4 p.m., followed by USU against Idaho State at 7. On Saturday, Aug. 30, the Aggies open the day's ledger against Oregon State at 10 a.m, preceding the Idaho State-Saint Mary's match at noon. ISU returns to the court at 4 p.m. to tangle with Oregon State, before USU caps off the tournament against Saint Mary's at 7.
Season tickets for the inaugural Utah State volleyball season are now on sale. Fans can get reserved chairback season tickets for $50, while general admission season tickets are $40. Additionally, fans can purchase a Women's Sports Pass for $75, which is good for general admission to all volleyball, women's basketball and gymnastics home events. If fans purchase their volleyball season tickets by Sept. 1, they get a free Utah State volleyball seat cushion.
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.