Aug 31, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah State volleyball captured its 600th all-time win and its first victory of the 2013 season with a 3-1 (25-18, 9-25, 25-19, 25-23) win over Northern Iowa Saturday morning in the Utah Classic at Utah's Jon M. Huntsman Center.
USU is believed to be the 102nd team in NCAA history to reach the 600-win plateau, according to available records.
Saturday morning's win was also the Aggies' first victory as a Mountain West Conference member, as USU is in its first MW season after eight years in the Western Athletic Conference.
"That win feels nice. Winning always feels better than losing, and that was a fun one. That was a really good Northern Iowa team; they've traditionally been really, really strong, so that's a big win for our program and our team," USU head coach Grayson DuBose said. "We've had our program for a long time so I'm happy to be a part of the 600 wins milestone and our team is honored to be a part of it. It's always a great day to be an Aggie and today is no different."
USU is now 1-1 on the season and the Aggies wrap up Classic action by locking horns with the Stags of Fairfield Saturday evening at 5 p.m. Fans can follow Saturday's action with "GameTracker" link at www.UtahStateAggies.com, or through match updates on twitter @USUVolleyball.
Junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) notched her second double-double of the season and 25th of her career with 36 assists and a career-high 22 digs. A morning after becoming the eighth player in program history to reach the 2,000 career assists plateau, Neves climbed up to No. 7 on the USU career assists list, now with 2,049, passing Randi Winn (1992-93) with 2,025 assists.
"It feels really good to get our first win of the season to get the momentum going for a good season," Neves said. "I'm honored to play for the Aggies and be a part of getting USU's 600th win. It feels good to have my name in the record book and reach the 2,000 assists, but I couldn't do any of it without my team, so kudos to my teammates."
With 2,049 career assists, Neves now needs 216 more to catch Andrea Delsigne (2001-03) for the No. 6 spot with 2,265 assists.
"Paige is a great kid. She's super meticulous about wanting to be better and striving to always improve her game. So this is a nice reward for all of her hard work and it's also a nice reward to the hitters around her. She's been fortunate to have some really good hitters to play with. It's a symbiotic relationship between setters and hitters, so she's done a real nice job with that. She's really a good setter," DuBose said.
Senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) posted her career-high for kills for the second-straight match, pounding out 13 kills a day after notching 11 kills Friday. Entering this season, Etimani had 17 total kills in her career and now has 24 in the first two matches. She also topped her career-best in digs for the second time in as many matches with 15 Saturday morning.
Sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) shared team-high kills honors with Etimani, logging 13 kills with a .238 attack percentage (13-3-42), ranking second on team behind Neves' .429 (3-0-7). Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) logged 12 kills as the Aggies had three players in double-digit kills for the second match in a row. Orr also posted her second-straight double-double with 14 digs.
Junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) logged a match-high five block assists, while Neves notched four block assists. VanHoff also served up two service aces while adding seven kills with a .227 attack percentage (7-2-22).
Northern Iowa was led by a match-high 20 kills by Courtney Kintzel while her sister, Shelby Kintzel added 10 kills. Kinsey Caldwell dished out a match-best 45 assists to go with four service aces. Macy Ubben had a team-high 22 digs while adding four blocks, sharing team-best honors with Courtney Kintzel.
The Aggies jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the opening set, with Etimani pounding four kills in that spurt, and USU kept UNI at bay for the rest of the set, not letting them get within five points. Etimani and Neves notched back-to-back kills for a 25-18 USU set one win.
The Panthers pounced out to an 11-7 advantage in set two, and the Aggies didn't get any closer. Freshman outside hitter Kaylie Kamalu (Kaysville, Utah) and fellow freshman, setter Erica Moscoso (Mission Viejo, Calif.) saw their first action as Aggies, but couldn't rally USU. UNI pulled away and took set two, 25-9.
Set three saw the lead being traded back-and-forth with the Aggies taking their first lead of the frame at 6-5 following a service ace by Neves. Another Aggie ace, this one by Rogers-Court later gave USU a 21-19 lead and UNI called a timeout. Out of the break, back-to-back Brainard bashes for kills gave USU a 23-19 advantage and UNI called its second and final timeout of the set. A kill by Etimani followed by a kill from Brainard captured the set for the Aggies at 25-19.
An Everett kill gave USU an early 7-3 lead in set four, prefacing a UNI timeout. The Panthers crept back to 11-10 after consecutive kills by Kintzels, first by Shelby Kintzel and then by her sister Courtney. Consecutive kills by Orr sandwiched around another Panther timeout put the Aggies ahead, 15-12. USU opened a 17-13 lead after an ace by VanHoff, but UNI bounced back to 17-16 after a pair of USU errors, and the Aggies used a timeout to try to slow momentum. The Panthers later tied it at 21-all, but Etimani gave USU the lead for good with back-to-back kills for a 23-21 lead and a few plays later, VanHoff slammed a kill for the Aggies' set and match win at 25-23.
Following this weekend's action, the Aggies play at the University of Portland Nike Invitational on Sept. 6-7, before playing at in-state foe Weber State on Sept. 10. USU then plays at the Duke University Tournament on Sept. 13-14.
The Aggies will officially kick off their home schedule by hosting Boise State on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., in USU's MW 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.
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