After opening the season with four home matches, Utah State volleyball now hits the road for its next seven matches, starting with three in the San Diego State Aztec Challenge this weekend in San Diego, Calif., at SDSU's Aztec Court in Peterson Gym. USU will open action against Montana on Friday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. (MT), before taking on Sacred Heart on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 10:30 a.m. and host SDSU at 8 p.m.
No one on USU’s roster was born the last time the Aggies played at San Diego State, as this weekend is USU’s first trip to SDSU since 1983, playing in the San Diego State Collegiate Tournament. The Aggies didn’t play the Aztecs in that visit on Sept. 15-17, 1983, instead playing Nebraska (L, 3-0), Arizona (L, 3-0), US International (W, 3-1), Pepperdine (W, 3-0) and Illinois State (L, 3-0). USU did face SDSU in the 1983 season with the Aztecs traveling to Logan on Oct. 13 with SDSU winning, 3-1.
Utah State opened the season with a win in its season-opener for the fifth time in the last eight years, improving to 18-19 all-time in season-openers, with a 3-0 sweep of Portland in the opening match of the USU Invitational on Aug. 24. In the final match of the day, USU battled back from down two sets to one and 19-10 in the fourth set, to force a fifth set before falling to Utah. On Aug. 25, the Aggies thwarted the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah in four sets before sweeping another in-state foe in Weber State.
USU has a .202 attack percentage, averaging 11.2 kills per set, while the Aggie defense has 2.87 blocks per set and 12.0 digs per set.
Senior outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah), redshirt freshman middle blocker Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) and sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah) were named to the Utah State Invitational All-Tournament Team. White was also named the America First Credit Union Utah State Student-Athlete of the Week.
For the season, White is averaging 2.87 kills per set, 2.27 digs per set, 0.67 blocks per set and 12.8 points per set. White has 268 career total blocks, needing 11 to tie for the No. 10 spot on the USU career total blocks list. White also has 25 block solos, needing 12 to tie for the No. 10 spot on the career solo block list and logging 244 career block assists, needing 14 more to tie for 10.
Brainard is hitting .383, ranking second in the Western Athletic Conference, with 23 kills (1.53 per set) to go with 21 total blocks (1.4 per set). Brainard’s 1.4 blocks per set ranks her sixth in the WAC. Rogers is tied for ninth in the WAC with 3.33 digs per set, logging 50 digs in the four matches.
Sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) did not play in the opener against Portland due to a hand injury but returned to action against Utah on Friday as well as both matches Aug. 25. With a 7.92 assists per set average, Neves ranks eighth in the WAC. Neves needs just 31 more assists to become the 12th player in Aggie history with 1,000 career assists. She is also only 170 assists from the No. 11 spot held by Heather Hillier (2005-08) and 311 assists from tying for the No. 10 spot held by Mindi Jackson (1995-96).
The Grizzlies of Montana are 0-3 after their opening weekend at the University of Idaho Nike Invitational in Moscow, Idaho. UM got swept by Washington State, lost to host Idaho in four and lost to Pacific in five sets.
The Pioneers of Sacred Heart have a 1-2 mark after their opening weekend at Northeastern’s Beanpot Classic. Sacred Heart swept Holy Cross on Friday before losing a pair of four-setters to Alabama and host Northeastern.
The Aztecs of SDSU are 2-0 after opening the season with a home tournament, sweeping Delaware Friday night before upsetting No. 17 California in five sets. San Diego State is second among others receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Division I Coaches Poll.
USU's seven-match road swing continues next weekend at the Kansas State Invitational on Sept. 7-8 before Utah State opens up its final season in the Western Athletic Conference with action in Texas against league newcomers UTSA on Sept. 13 and at Texas State on Sept. 15. The Aggies return home to the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum to host another conference new team, Seattle, on Sept. 20.
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.