Sept. 9, 2007
LOGAN, Utah -
Sept. 13 * BOISE STATE * 7:00 p.m.
Sept. 15 * SAN JOSE STATE * 7:00 p.m.
Utah State will begin Western Athletic Conference play this weekend as it hosts Boise State (3-5, 0-0) in its home opener on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU will then host San Jose State (6-3, 0-0) on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.
LOOKING AT UTAH STATE
Utah State is 3-6 on the season after finishing in third-place at the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational hosted by the University of California last weekend. USU began the tournament with a pair of three-game losses to 15th-ranked California and 12th-ranked Minnesota before sweeping Eastern Kentucky in its final match. USU is led by senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson who is averaging 5.39 points, 4.41 kills, 1.85 digs, 0.67 service aces and 0.59 blocks per game, while junior Melissa Osterloh is averaging 4.22 points, 3.67 kills, 2.96 digs and 0.41 blocks per game. As a team, Utah State is hitting .125 on the season as compared to a .216 hitting percentage for its opponents.
NIELSON NAMED TO ANOTHER ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson (West Valley City, Utah/Granger HS) was named to the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational all-tournament team after leading the Aggies to a third-place finish with a 1-2 record during the weekend. Nielson averaged 5.88 points, 4.88 kills, 1.38 digs, 0.75 service aces and 0.50 blocks per game during the tournament. Her best match of the weekend was against Eastern Kentucky as she hit a career-high .609 (15-1-23) to go along with four service aces and two digs. It is the third straight week that Nielson has been named to an all-tournament team.
MORRILL NAMED GOLDEN BEAR INVITATIONAL DEFENSIVE STANDOUT
Freshman libero Christine Morrill (Neola, Utah/Union HS) was named the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational Defensive Standout as she averaged 3.67 digs per game during the two-day event. Morrill was playing in her first competition of the season after missing the first six matches of the year due to injury.
UTAH STATE IN HOME OPENERS
Utah State is 16-15 all-time in home openers, which includes a three-game win against Weber State in 2006 by scores of 30-25, 30-20, 30-20. Over the last seven years, Utah State is 59-26 (.694) in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, which includes a 46-22 (.676) record against conference opponents. During the last two years, USU is 12-4 (.750) at home against WAC opponents.
UTAH STATE IN CONFERENCE OPENERS
Since the 1990 season, Utah State is 6-11 in conference openers, which includes a 4-5 record at home. Since joining the Western Athletic Conference, USU is 2-0 in conference openers at home defeating New Mexico State (3-0) in 2005 and Fresno State (3-1) in 2006.
Utah State will conclude the month of September with four straight WAC road matches, including contests at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech on Thursday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 22.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND
Utah State notched a third-place finish with a 1-2 record at the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational last weekend. USU began the tournament with a pair of three-game losses to 15th-ranked California and 12th-ranked Minnesota before defeating Eastern Kentucky in three games. Against California, USU was led by senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson who had 11 kills and four digs. Nielson then added 13 kills and five digs against Minnesota, before hitting a career-high .609 against Eastern Kentucky as she had 15 kills, four service aces and two digs. Freshman libero Christine Morrill also played well for the Aggies as she averaged 3.67 digs per game and had a season-high 14 digs against Eastern Kentucky.
SCOUTING BOISE STATE
Boise State is 3-5 on the season after losing a pair of matches to UC Davis (3-1) and San Francisco (3-0) in a tournament hosted by UC Davis last weekend. The Broncos, who are 0-2 in road matches this year, are led by freshman middle blocker Sadie Maughan who is hitting .317 and averaging 2.52 kills and 0.88 blocks per game. As a team, BSU is hitting .160 this year as compared to a .206 hitting percentage for its opponents. Boise State returns five starters and 12 letterwinners from last year's team that went 13-17 overall and tied for sixth-place in the WAC with a 6-10 league record.
UTAH STATE-BOISE STATE SERIES HISTORY
Utah State is 9-16 all-time against Boise State, which includes a 5-3 home record. The two schools split the season series last year with each team winning on their home court in four games. Overall, the Aggies have won eight of the last nine matches played in the series. Since joining the WAC, USU is 3-1 against BSU.
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE
San Jose State is 6-3 on the season after defeating Arizona State (3-1) and Weber State (3-1) and losing at Utah Valley (3-2) in a tournament hosted by the Wolverines last weekend. The Spartans, who are 0-3 on the road this year, are led by junior middle blocker Colleen Burke who is hitting .444 and averaging 2.62 kills and 0.75 blocks per game. As a team, SJSU is hitting .239 on the season as compared to a .167 hitting percentage for its opponents. The Spartans return four starters and six letterwinners from last year's team that went 19-12 overall and finished in a tie for fourth-place in the WAC with a 9-7 league record.
UTAH STATE-SAN JOSE STATE SERIES HISTORY
Utah State is 4-14-1 all-time against San Jose State which includes a 3-5 record at home. The two teams split its season series in 2006 with USU winning in Logan in four games, while the Spartans won in San Jose in five games. Since joining the WAC, USU is 3-1 against SJSU.
UTAH STATE RETURNS TWO ALL-WAC PLAYERS FROM 2006
Utah State returns two players who earned all-WAC honors in 2006 in senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson and sophomore middle blocker Melissa Larson. Nielson was named second-team all-WAC in 2006 as she ranked third in the league in points per game (4.93), fourth in kills per game (4.04), ninth in service aces per game (0.34) and ninth in blocks per game (1.03). Larson was named to the WAC's all-freshman team a year ago as she ranked fifth in the league with 1.29 blocks per game.
NIELSON NAMED PRESEASON ALL-WAC
Senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson was one of 12 student-athletes named to the 2007 preseason all-WAC team. Nielson is the second player in USU history to be named preseason all-WAC joining Zuzana Cernianska who received the honor prior to the 2005 season. Other players named preseason all-WAC in 2007 are Niki Clement (San Jose State); Teal Ericson (Nevada); Kari Gregory (Hawai'i); Tara Hittle (Hawai'i); Jamie Houston (Hawai'i), Haley Larson (Idaho); Kim Oguh (New Mexico State); Shannon Phillips (Louisiana Tech); Juliana Sanders (Hawai'i); Jennifer Senftleben (San Jose State); and Amber Simpson (New Mexico State).
NIELSON CONTINUES TO CLIMB THE CAREER CHARTS
Senior opposite side hitter Amanda Nielson continues her climb in several career categories at Utah State as she currently ranks fourth all-time at Utah State in attack attempts (2,859), seventh in block assists (257), seventh in kills (956), seventh in service aces (96) and eighth in total blocks (277).
RANKING UTAH STATE IN THE WAC
Entering last weekend's action, Utah State ranked fourth in the Western Athletic Conference in service aces per game (1.58) and fifth in digs per game (15.11). Individually, Amanda Nielson ranked second in service aces per game (0.63) and seventh in kills per game (4.21), while Monarisa Ale ranked seventh in digs (3.90). Heather Hiller ranked fifth in assists (11.00), Melissa Larson ranked eighth in hitting percentage (.316), Melissa Osterloh ranked eighth in kills per game (3.95) and Jessalyn Payne ranked fourth in digs per game (4.32).
UTAH STATE'S RECRUITING CLASS AMONG BEST IN THE NATION
According to PrepVolleyball.com, Utah State had the second-best recruiting class in the Western Athletic Conference in 2007, behind only Hawai'i who had the 19th-best class in the nation. USU welcomed 10 newcomers to the program this fall, including six freshmen, and that class ranked as one of the top-95 in the nation.
UTAH STATE RETURNS A LOT OF PRODUCTION FROM 2006
With five starters and seven letterwinners returning from last year's team, Utah State returns a lot of production in a lot of different areas. The following is a breakdown of what USU's returns and what it lost from the 2006 season.
Statistical breakdown of what Utah State returns in 2007.
Assists (1,435/1,504) 95.4%
Blocks (519/642) 80.8%
Points (1,363.5/2,124.0) 64.2%
Kills (1,001/1,643) 60.9%
Service Aces (85/141) 60.3%
Digs (709/1,861) 38.1%
FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Of the 17 players on Utah State's roster, 11 are from the state of Utah. Those 11 players from the "Beehive State" are senior Amanda Nielson
(West Valley City), juniors Rebecca Anderson
(Logan), Kris Hymas
(South Jordan), Melissa Osterloh
(Sandy), Dani Schaap
(Salt Lake City) and Jessica Wilkinson
(Penrose), sophomore Danielle Taylor
(Springville), and freshmen Katie Astle
(Sandy), Christine Morrill
(Neola), Jenna Oldroyd
(Orem) and Lori Wilson
PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
Utah State is picked to finish seventh in the Western Athletic Conference according to the league's coaches. In 2006, USU was picked to finish eighth in the preseason before tying for sixth with a 6-10 WAC record.
1. Hawai'i (8) 64
2. New Mexico State 55
3. San Jose State (1) 44
5. Nevada 36
6. Boise State 30
7. UTAH STATE 21
8. Fresno State 20
9. Louisiana Tech 9
QUOTING COACH DUBOSE
Thoughts on his team's play during the preseason ... "We are getting better and learning how to compete at a high level, which was our goal heading into the season. I think we are battle tested due to the tournaments we have played in and ready for WAC play."
On opening WAC play at home against Boise State and San Jose State ... "Boise State and San Jose State are good teams and both were picked ahead of us in the preseason polls, so it will be a challenging weekend. We have traditionally played well at home and I expect that to continue as we enter WAC play."
RETURNING PLAYER NOTES
#1 - Monarisa Ale - Recorded a career-high 15 digs against Eastern Washington... Is averaging 1.33 kills, 3.17 digs and 0.83 blocks per game ... Is 57 block assists and 61 total blocks shy of entering the USU career top 10 in each category.
#2 - Chelsea Fowles - Averaging 9.94 assists per game and recorded a season-high 47 assists against Eastern Washington.
#3 - Melissa Osterloh - Has recorded four double-doubles this year... Had a season-high 20 kills at Montana State... Is averaging 4.22 points, 3.67 kills, 2.96 digs and 0.41 blocks per game.
#4 - Jessalyn Payne - Recorded a season-high 18 digs against Saint Mary's and Eastern Washington... Averaging 3.86 digs per game.
#5 - Danielle Taylor - Averaging 1.68 kills and 0.71 blocks per game... Had a season-high nine kills versus Eastern Washington.
#7 - Katie Astle - Had her best match of the season against Minnesota as she had four kills on six attempts... Is hitting .400 on the season and averaging 0.75 kills per game.
#8 - Melissa Larson - Averaging 1.93 points, 1.53 kills and 0.80 blocks per game... Had a season-high seven kills against Arizona and six block assists against Eastern Washington.
#9 - Rebecca Anderson - Has played in 10 games this season and is averaging 0.90 blocks and 0.60 kills per game.
#10 - Kris Hymas - Had a season-high seven kills at Montana State and is averaging 1.18 kills and 1.18 digs per game.
#14 - Christine Morrill - Named the Defensive Standout at the 2007 Golden Bear Invitational in her first action of the season... Averaging 2.67 digs per game.
#15 - Dani Schaap - Has yet to play this year... Started six matches at setter for Utah State last year and finished tied for ninth in the WAC with 6.04 assists per game.
#17 - Lori Wilson - Has played in five games this year, recording a season-high five kills against Eastern Kentucky.
#23 - Heather Hillier - Is averaging 9.67 assists per game... Ranks 10th all-time at Utah State with 1,086 career assists... Had a season-high 43 assists against Montana State.
#33 - Amanda Nielson - Has been named to three all-tournament teams this year... Tied a school record with six service aces against Eastern Washington in four games and hit a career-high .609 (15-1-23) against Eastern Kentucky... Is hitting .177 and averaging 5.39 points, 4.41 kills, 1.85 digs, 0.67 service aces and 0.59 blocks per game.
HEAD COACH Grayson DuBose
Entering his second season as Utah State's head volleyball coach is Grayson DuBose, who is optimistic that his 2007 team can rebound from a disappointing 13-19 record a year ago and a sixth-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference. DuBose was hired by USU on March 27, 2006.
In his inaugural season at Utah State, DuBose (pronounced Do-Boz) inherited a team that lost four starters and seven quality letterwinners from an NCAA Tournament team that went 21-13 overall and finished in a tie for second-place in the WAC with an 11-5 league record in 2005. Despite all the turnover, DuBose led Utah State to an early 10-8 record, including a 3-1 mark in WAC play before numerous injuries and inexperience took its toll in the final six weeks.
In 2006, DuBose coached two all-league players as junior Amanda Nielson earned second-team all-WAC honors, while Melissa Larson was named to the conference's all-freshman team. Utah State also had six players earn academic all-conference honors, and one player earn WAC Player of the Week honors, marking just the second time that a USU player has received the award.
Prior to accepting the head coaching position at Utah State, DuBose spent four seasons (2003-06) as an assistant on Brigham Young University's men's volleyball team.
DuBose began his collegiate coaching career at Utah State from 1999-2000 as an assistant to Tom Peterson. During that time, the Aggies won the Eastern Division of the Big West Conference in 1999 and advanced to the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2000, defeating Missouri in the first round. USU finished the 2000 season ranked 22nd in the country, the program's first-ever top-25 ranking.
In his four seasons at Brigham Young, DuBose helped lead the Cougar's men's program to a 90-30 (.750) record, including a National Championship in 2004 and a second-place finish at the 2003 NCAA Tournament. During his time at BYU, he coached nine All-American's, including the 2004 NCAA Player of the Year.
DuBose began his coaching career as an assistant at Brighton High School in Sandy, Utah from 1997-98 and also assisted with the Cache Valley Juniors and the Mountain West Volleyball Club during that time period. Following his two-year stint at Utah State, DuBose spent one year as an assistant to Peterson at the University of New Mexico, working with the women's program, before following Peterson to Brigham Young.
DuBose played two years of collegiate volleyball at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, Calif., after graduating from Edision High School in Huntington Beach where he earned all-county honors his senior season.
DuBose graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in history in 1993 and then received his teaching certificate from Utah State University in 1995. He and his wife Lenonnie have three children, Kline (9), Cassandra (7) and Jackson (3).
Year School Overall WAC NCAA
2006 Utah State 13-19 (.406) 6-10 (.375)
2007 Utah State 3-6 (.333) 0-0 (.000)
Totals 16-25 (.390) 6-10 (.375)