LOGAN – Grayson DuBose said he likes this year’s team. The Utah State head volleyball coach is already has a lot of experience to work with early in the season.
After finishing with a disappointing 6-26 record last year, USU started this season with three-straight losses, but since then has won four of its last six, including two-of-three at the USU Invitational during the last couple of days.
On KVNU’s Full Court Press radio program Tuesday evening, DuBose said every returning player on his roster got playing time last year. “We have all this wonderful experience,” he said. “We can throw just about anybody in any situation and it’s not going to freak them out. Sometimes when you put the jersey on for your first time and you get thrown in there it kind of wigs you out a little bit, but they’re are all in control and they’ve been there before, so it’s kind of exciting.”
The experience has allowed DuBose to further his team’s development, rather than focus excessive time on the basics.
“We still want to reinforce the principles that are kind of our core values, we want to reinforce that and then we’ve added a few wrinkles,” he said. “But nothing major, it’s just, ‘Hey, let’s try this,’ or ‘This is a shot you want to try and develop,’ or ‘This is a serve you might want to try out,’ to keep everything fresh with them a little bit.”
But not every player has experience at the college level. There are four new freshmen that have joined the team. DuBose is pleased with the job the older players have done teaching the younger players.
“They needed to get up to speed,” he said. “One of the things I enjoy about this team is their willingness to embrace and say ‘Hey, here are those new guys that don’t know anything yet. We’re going to go embrace them, wrap their arms around them and make sure they’re doing all right,’ because it can be a little overwhelming.”
Dubose praised libero Hannah Gleason as one of the best in the conference. He said her 4.3 digs a game have other teams avoiding her on serves.
“She’s one of our team captains,” he said. “Her personality is so good for our program. She takes the game seriously. She doesn’t take herself seriously, and I think that kind of helps calm people down. She digs and keeps us what we call ‘in system.’
DuBose also discussed the strength of opposite side hitter Kayla DeCoursey, saying percentage-wise,she is the best hitting non-middle blocker in the conference. He added that outside hitters Lauren Anderson and Kaylie Kamalu-Smith are attacking the ball well.
“Our spikers are spiking it and they’re doing what they do,” he said. “Our defense is giving them chances and it’s kind of nice.”
Colorado State has won every Mountain West women’s volleyball championship ship since 2009, and eight-of-10 before that. DuBose said that until somebody can take down the Rams, they are still the team to beat.
“Colorado State is always very good,” he said. “They lost some kids from last year so I imagine by the time conference is here they’ll have some lineups figured out and they’ll be ready to go. Boise State is very good, they are picked to finish second. They have a tough preseason. Wyoming is going to be good as well. I think UNLV returns a bunch of people and they’ll be pretty good. Top to bottom, this is probably as good as a league as we’ve seen.”
The USU Invitational Thursday and Friday was the first time USU has played at home this year, and the team won’t be back until the Rams visit on September 29th, but DuBose is looking forward to another season in the Wayne Estes Center with USU’s student section, The Hurd, cheering on his team.
“It really is one of the best places I’ve been in the country, and I’m not just saying that,” he said. “I really do believe it. … We have a bunch of people that get into it, that get into the game. The Hurd is off the charts. A couple of years ago the UNLV coach was here and she talked to our event management and said, ‘Hey, the Hurd is heckling too much,’ and I thought, ‘I don’t know if that is a thing, I don’t know if you can heckle too much.’”
USU’s next match will be Tuesday, September 13th at Utah Valley University.