OGDEN, Utah – Utah State posted its highest attack percentage in almost 11 years to the day with a .416 attack percentage to lead the Aggies to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-18) sweep of Weber State Tuesday night at WSU’s Swenson Gym.
The Aggies’ .416 attack percentage (47-10-89) Tuesday night was their first time hitting over .400 in a match since Oct. 18, 2003, when they posted a .408 against UC Riverside. The .416 attack percentage was USU’s highest in almost exactly 11 years to the day, dating back to Sept. 13, 2002 when USU had a .463 outing vs. Northeastern.
With its first sweep of the season for the win, USU has won its last three matches to improve to 5-2 on the season. WSU has lost its last six in a row after winning its first three matches of the season and the Wildcats are now 3-6 on the year. Tuesday night was the Aggies’ fifth-straight win over the Wildcats overall in the series, now leading 35-19, as well as their ninth win in a row in Ogden.
“Winning is still fun and it’s always nice. I really enjoy the in-state rivalries, with the passion that goes along with them and I always like playing teams that are passionate, and Weber State was no different tonight. It was a nice, loud environment tonight and Weber State is a competitive team and they’re going to do some really nice things in the Big Sky,” USU head coach Grayson DuBose said.
Tuesday’s win was a little bittersweet for DuBose, who faced his former boss and former assistant in current Weber State head coach Tom Peterson, who is in his third season at the leash of the Wildcats’ program after being an assistant on USU head coach Grayson DuBose’s bench in 2010. Peterson was also head coach for the Aggies from 1999-2000, posting a 36-22 (.621) record, with DuBose as his assistant.
“That part is hard. (USU men’ basketball head coach) Stew Morrill talks about it a lot with playing assistants like Randy Rahe (Weber State head coach), and I feel the same way. It’s a hard thing because you want to win, but then you feel for him when he doesn’t win. Tom and I have known each other for a long time; he gave me my start as a coach and my philosophies are based on his. I have a lot of respect and admiration for him, not just for who he is as a coach, but as a person.”
Tuesday night’s effort was paced by a season-low 10 errors and boosted by hitting .469 (18-3-32) in the opening set, USU highest set percentage this season and second over .400 in a frame, bettering the .438 in set one of the loss to Wichita State on Sept. 6.
“That feels great to hit well tonight,” DuBose said. “It feels how it’s supposed to feel. We’re rolling and we felt really good about our prep coming into this match. Our ball control has been good, which makes our distribution a little easier and all those things really just build on each other; there’s a synergistic quality with it all.”
The USU defense posted 10 total team blocks in limiting WSU to a .099 (29-19-101) attack percentage, a season-low opponent hitting percentage for the Aggie defense.
Senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah), led the USU defensive front with six blocks (one solo, five assists), while junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) notched four assists and junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) and junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) logged three assists apiece.
VanHoff led the Aggie offense with a career-high 12 kills on a career-best .556 (12-2-18) attack percentage. Orr posted 10 kills and both Neves and Everett logged five kills apiece on identical .833 (5-0-6) attack percentages, as Neves notched a new career-high and Everett tied her career-best for attack percentages.
Neves also dished out 38 assists while junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) posted 10 digs.
Weber State was led by Samantha Staker’s eight kills while Whitney Hunt doled out 20 assists, McKay Tarbox tallied 13 digs and five different players notched one block apiece.
After WSU scored the first two points of the opening set, USU stormed back by scoring seven of the next eight points to take a 7-3 lead. Later Etimani smashed a smoking kill down left line for an Aggies’ point and a 16-11 USU lead, prompting Weber State to call the first timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, VanHoff and Neves teamed up for a block and a 17-11 Aggie advantage. WSU closed to 22-19, but a block by Brainard and Everett regained control for USU and the Aggies pulled away for the set win at 25-19 after two Wildcat errors.
The second stanza opened with the lead see-sawing back and forth, before the Aggies took the first two-point lead in the set by either team at 7-5 on a WSU error. USU stretched its lead to 11-6 after a block by Brainard and Everett. Weber State closed to 12-9 after a service error, but the Aggies regained control, stretching their lead to 18-10 after a VanHoff kill. Freshman Erica Moscoso (Mission Viejo, Calif.) came in and dealt an ace on the ensuing serve for a 20-11 Aggie advantage and Weber State took its final timeout of the set.
After the intermission, USU jumped out to a 7-2 lead following a Brainard bash for a kill, a WSU error and a tandem block by VanHoff and Neves. The Wildcats scratched and clawed away at the gap and tied it at 10-10. A solo block by Everett gave USU a short-lived 12-11 lead, but WSU scored the next two points. A quick kill by Neves and a putback kill by VanHoff put the Aggies ahead 15-14, however the Wildcats countered with a 2-0 spurt of their own for a 16-15 lead. Utah State responded by scoring seven of the next nine points, getting key kills by VanHoff and Orr along with taking advantage of WSU errors and an ace by Neves for a 21-17 lead. Another Brainard kill and a Wildcat error made the scoreboard read 23-17 in USU’s favor and WSU took a timeout. A USU error cut the cap to 23-18 but an Orr kill and another WSU error clinched the set and the match for the Aggies at 25-18 to complete the sweep.
USU has a quick turnaround and resumes tournament action, playing in their third and final tournament of the regular-season this weekend, heading to Durham, N.C., to play at the Duke University Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14. The Aggies face South Carolina on Friday morning at 8 a.m. (MT), before taking on host Duke Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. (MT). On Saturday, USU wraps up action by taking on Liberty at 9:30 a.m. (MT).
The Aggies will officially kick off their home schedule by hosting Boise State on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., in USU’s Mountain West debut.
Utah State volleyball tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Fans can also follow the Aggie volleyball program at twitter.com/USUVolleyball, on facebook at facebook.com/USUVolleyball or on instagram at instagram.com/usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics.