New faces give new look to USU volleyball

From a new conference to new faces, a lot has changed for the Utah State volleyball team since last season.

The Aggies have finished their time in the WAC, going out with a regular season championship, and head coach Grayson DuBose said the team is anxious to compete in the Mountain West Conference.

“I don’t know a lot about the conference other than that it’s a good conference,” said head coach Grayson DuBose. “I think we’re heading in the right direction. I think we can compete and compete with any team in any league that we’re in.”

The Aggies return four starters from last season’s championship squad, losing senior hitters Josselyn White and Shay Sorenson but getting senior Alyssa Everett back from injury after a redshirt season.

“(Everett) understands our system, she understands volleyball, she has a nice volleyball IQ,” DuBose said. “That makes it comforting because we can trust her.”

Also returning for the Aggies are junior setter Paige Neves, junior libero Ashlan Rogers Court, junior middle blocker Kaitlyn Van Hoff and sophomore outside hitters Rachel Orr and Elle Brainard.

Neves is a three-year starter for USU, splitting time with then-senior Kassi Hargrove last season while moving into 12th place on USU’s all-time assists list at 1,971 assists.

With VanHoff back and Everett returning from injury, DuBose opted to move Brainard from middle blocker to right outside hitter, the position she was originally recruited for.

“Last season I played middle, this year I’m switching back to right side,” Brainard said. “It’s been fun. It’s been a change since middle and right side are very different.”

Brainard accounted for 1.69 kills per set last season as a freshman en route to the WAC freshman of the year award, adding 1.41 blocks per set — ranked 20th in the country.

Orr was second on the team in kills per set last season, and DuBose said he expects the new faces will push her to continue to improve.

“The freshman have blended well. Our team has done a nice job integrating everybody,” DuBose said. “With seven new kids it’s been a challenge.”

Of the eight returning players, four notched post-season awards in 2012 in Brainard, Orr,

Neves and VanHoff. Neves and Orr were named to the All-WAC first team, while Brainard and VanHoff were named to the second team.

The Aggies went through the spring season with just eight players, and DuBose said he expects a lot of the freshman to get playing time and have an impact.

During the blue and white scrimmage, freshman setter Erica Moscoso tallied a team-high 57 assists, while freshman middle blocker Kayla DeCoursey recorded 10 kills in her Aggie debut.

Utah State’s regular season begins Friday, Aug. 30 when the Aggies travel to in-state rival Utah. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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