To open its longest homestand since 2000, Utah State will host New Mexico State on Thursday, Oct. 4, in not only a clash of the Aggies but a battle of the top two teams in the Western Athletic Conference standings. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

NMSU enters Thursday with a 5-0 league record, while USU is 5-1. New Mexico State is 11-4 overall, while Utah State is 10-5.

The match-up Thursday between the navy Aggies of USU and the maroon Aggies of NMSU is the 66th meeting all-time, Utah State’s longest series with any WAC foe and Thursday’s match will tie for the longest in school history behind the 67 meetings with Utah. USU is 26-39 all-time against New Mexico State, which includes an 11-17 home record. After NMSU had a nine-match winning streak in the series, USU has won three of the last four meetings, including a five-set win in the semifinals of the 2010 WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, as well as a five-set win in the last meeting last season in Logan.

Thursday's match is also the first of USU's five-match homestand.

Additionally, it is the start of USU's "Dig for a Cure" campaign as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to help raise money for Logan Regional Hospital Foundations's Breast Cancer Services. Pledges are now being gathered for every dig the Aggies make during their seven home matches in October as part of USU's "Dig for a Cure" campaign.

For each dig (a defensive move made to control a spiked ball) the Aggies are asking for a donation of $0.25. If the Aggies record 200 total digs in the seven matches, a pledge of $0.25 will result in $50. Half of this donation will go to the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation to assist in Breast Cancer Services, while the other half will be used to support the USU Volleyball team. Pledges can be made in any amount and flat donations are also accepted and appreciated. Pledge and donation forms will be available at the matches at the marketing/promotions table on the west concourse of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Any pledge or donation received will enter the fan's name into a drawing which will take place the last home match in October, on Saturday, Oct. 27 vs. Louisiana Tech. Prizes include: T-shirts, volleyballs and team photos.

Thursday's match is also Thirsty Thursday, with fans getting a free small drink with the purchase of $3 or more at the USU concession stand.

Utah State continues to lead the WAC overall in blocking at 2.96 blocks per set, and the Aggies also are third in the league in WAC only matches at 2.82 bps. With its 2.96 bps team average overall, Utah State leads the WAC and is 10th in the NCAA statistics. Individually, redshirt-freshman Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) is second in the WAC and seventh in the NCAA with a 1.55 bps average.

Senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah) is fifth in WAC only matches in kills per set (3.45) while ranking eighth overall (2.93), as well as fifth in conference only matches for points per set (4.14) while ranking sixth overall (3.63). Sorensen has logged a double-double in five of USU’s last eight matches and has a team-leading six on the season.

New Mexico State is second in the WAC overall in hitting percentage (.237) but leads the league in conference only matches (.253). NMSU is led by sophomore outside hitter Meredith Hays, who is second in the WAC overall with 4.22 kills per set, ranking fourth in conference only matches with 3.80 kps. Hays also is second in the league overall for points per set (4.82), ranking fourth in conference only matches (4.35 pps). Additionally, Hays is sixth in the WAC overall for service aces per set (0.28).

NMSU head coach Mike Jordan is a former USU assistant coach and spent two seasons (1996-97) with the northern Aggies.

USU's homestand continues when Utah State hosts WAC newcomer Denver on Saturday, Oct. 6. The Aggies then take a break from conference play to host in-state foe Utah Valley on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Returning to WAC play, USU will host San Jose State on Saturday, Oct. 13 and UTSA on Monday, Oct. 15. After road matches at Idaho on Thursday, Oct. 18 and at Seattle on Saturday, Oct. 20, USU returns home to host UT Arlington on Thursday, Oct. 25 and Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Oct. 27. All Aggie home matches start at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

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.