Sept. 14, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. - For the second time in its last four matches, Utah State volleyball hit over .400, posting its highest attack percentage since 2002 with a .463 attack percentage Saturday morning to finish off its action in the Duke Invitational with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-11, 25-23) sweep over Liberty.
USU's .463 attack percentage came on 48 kills with just four errors in 95 attacks, tying its previous highest mark from nearly 11 years to the day, with a .463 (60-10-109) outing vs. Northeastern on Sept. 13, 2002.
All seven Aggie players with an attack hit .333 or better, led by senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (Perry, Utah) with a perfect 1.000 (2-0-2) attack percentage, while junior setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.) logged a .667 (4-0-6) attack percentage.
USU posted a .416 attack percentage (47-10-89) last Tuesday in a sweep over in-state foe Weber State, which was their first time hitting over .400 in a match since Oct. 18, 2003, when they posted a .408 against UC Riverside.
Saturday morning's win was USU's first victory of the weekend after losing to South Carolina and Duke on Friday. The last two Aggie wins have been via sweep after beating in-state foe Weber State in three sets on Sept. 10. With Saturday's victory, Utah State is now 6-4 on the year, while Liberty is now 1-9. Saturday was the first meeting on the volleyball court between the Aggies and the Lady Flames.
USU senior outside hitter Tumua Etimani (Richardson, Texas) and Liberty's Nzea McQuitery were named to the Duke Invitational all-Tournament team, with the remainder of the all-tournament team announced following the Duke-South Carolina contest in the final match of the Invitational.
Sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard (Saratoga Springs, Utah) led USU with a match-high and career-high tying 15 kills in hitting a season-high tying .500 (15-2-26). Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (Thatcher, Ariz.) added 11 kills, while Etimani and junior middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah) posted seven kills apiece.
Junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (Highland, Utah) logged a team-leading 11 digs while Etimani notched 10. Neves (Otto, Wyo.) dished out a match-high 35 assists.
VanHoff posted a match-high five block assists while Brainard and Everett posted four block assists apiece, as the Aggies had 10 total team blocks, while the Lady Flames had one total team block.
Liberty was led by McQuitery with 11 kills, while Caila Stapleton doled out 16 assists, and Gabrielle Shipe posted a match-high 12 digs. Monica Johnson had the Lady Flames' lone block with a solo block.
Utah State pulled away from a 6-3 lead in the first frame with four-straight points, with Brainard starting and ending the 4-0 streak with kills for a 10-3 Aggie advantage. Back-to-back kills by VanHoff and Brainard put the Aggies ahead, 20-10. An ace by Neves and another Brainard bash for a kill clinched the first set for USU at 25-11.
The second stanza started with a 6-3 Aggie advantage after kills by Brainard and Orr. USU's streak continued with an ace by Etimani and an Orr kill open up a 10-3 lead. Another Brainard bash for a kill stretched the gap to 18-5. A kill by freshman Carly Lenzen (Cove Creek, Ariz.) extended the Aggies' advantage to 20-7 and Lenzen later notched another kill to capture the second set just like the first at 25-11 for a 2-0 USU sets lead.
A kill by Orr gave USU an 11-8 lead in the third frame. Later, another Orr kill stretched the Aggie advantage to 17-13. Consecutive kills by Orr and Neves opened up a 20-14 lead for Utah State. USU had match point at 24-20 after a kill by Brainard, but Liberty clawed back to 24-23. Out of the break, a Liberty service error clinches the game, set and match for the Aggies at 25-23.
With 35 assists Saturday morning, Neves now has 2,291 career assists, passing Andrea Delsigne (2001-03) for No. 6 on USU's career assists list. Neves need 327 more assists for the No. 5 spot held by Stephanie Maurer (1984-87).
VanHoff's five block assists pushes her career total to 295 and moving from a tie for seventh with Erin Cartwright-Davis (2001-03) with 290 block assists for No. 7 on the USU career block assists list, and up to No. 6, passing Michelle Matheson (1998-2001) with 292 career block assists. VanHoff now has 309 total blocks, moving up to tie No. 8 on the Aggies' career total blocks list, tying Shantell Durrant (2008-10).
Rogers-Court's 11 digs Saturday give her 859 for her career, needing just 41 more to become the eighth player in Aggie history with 900 career digs and needing 45 more to tie former teammate Laurel Bodily (2009-11) for No. 7 on the USU career digs list.
With regular-season tournament play completed, the Aggies will officially kick off their home schedule by hosting Boise State on Wednesday, 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.
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