Utah State volleyball will start its spring season on Saturday, March 23, at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, in the first of four-straight weekends of action. USU will be on the road for its first two weekends of play before hosting one and then wrapping up action on the road.
The Aggies will open their spring action on Saturday at Weber State, starting with a controlled scrimmage at 10 a.m. in Weber State's Stromberg/Swenson Gym Complex, followed by a match. USU head coach Grayson DuBose will be facing off with Weber State head coach Tom Peterson, who was an assistant on DuBose's bench in 2010. Peterson was also head coach for the Aggies from 1999-2000 with DuBose as his assistant.
“We are looking forward to being able to measure ourselves against a different opponent. The spring is a great time to make changes and improve technique," DuBose said. "It is always fun to get to see and compete against Tom Peterson.”
Next Saturday, March 30, the Aggies will also participate in a spring tournament at Utah beginning at 9 a.m. On Saturday, April 6, USU will host Idaho State in a controlled scrimmage and then a match at the USU HPER before wrapping up spring action with a tournament at Utah Valley on Saturday, April 13 at 9 a.m.
The 2012 Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion Aggies return four starters, who were also all-WAC honorees, plus their libero from last season's squad that posted a milestone season with a 21-9 record. Utah State won its first-ever WAC regular-season title to go with its 2010 WAC Tournament championship in its eighth and final season in the league before joining the Mountain West Conference next season.
The Aggies also won 20 matches for the 11th time in school history and second in the last three years, winning 24 matches in their 2010 WAC title season. USU, which was picked fourth in this year's preseason WAC poll, proved the prognosticators wrong in posting a 15-3 WAC record, setting a school-record for most conference wins, bettering the previous mark of 12 Big West Conference wins in 2001. DuBose was named the WAC Coach of the Year, joining his 2007 honor, and is the only conference coach of the year honoree in the program's history.
Headlining the Aggies' returners are junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) and junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.), who both earned first-team all-WAC honors. Neves was third in the WAC with 10.16 assists per set, while Orr was ninth with 2.96 kills per set.
USU also has two second-team all-WAC honorees returning in the middle blocking duo of junior Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) and sophomore Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah). In addition to second-team all-WAC honors, Brainard was the WAC Freshman of the Year and also on the all-freshman team. Brainard was third in the WAC with 1.41 blocks per set, as well as ninth in hitting percentage at .291, while VanHoff was fourth in the league in blocks at 1.33 bps.
Neves moved up to No. 9 on the career assists list with 1,971, while finishing just shy of the single-season top 10 list as she dished out 1,097 helpers last season, just missing the No. 10 spot by 36 assists. Brainard moved up to No. 3 on the single-season block assists list with 150, as well as No. 3 on the total blocks list with 157. VanHoff climbed to No. 5 on the block assists list with 138, while climbing to tie for No. 5 on the total blocks list with 148.
Also returning is senior libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah), who was sixth in the WAC at 3.72 digs per set, as well as seventh in service aces at 0.25 per set with 28 total. Rogers posted 413 digs last season for the No. 6 spot on the Aggies' single-season digs list
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.