Aug. 23, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State volleyball will tip off the 2012 season on Friday, Aug. 24, kicking off action at the third-annual Utah State Invitational sponsored by Gossner Foods with the first match, taking on Portland at 10 a.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
In addition to Portland, USU welcomes in-state foes Southern Utah, Utah and Weber State to the five-team classic format tournament. After the USU-UP match, Utah will take on Southern Utah at Noon, followed by Weber State and Portland at 4:30 p.m. The Aggies then close out the first day of action by taking on Utah at 7 p.m.
Saturday's action tips off with Portland facing Southern Utah at 9:30 a.m., followed by Weber State and Utah at Noon. The Aggies face the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah at 2 p.m., preceding the 5 p.m. match-up between the Utes of Utah against the Pilots of Portland. USU concludes action by facing Weber State at 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $1 for youth ages 3-14. The USU Athletics Ticket Office will open at 9 a.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Utah State volleyball tickets are available in person at the USU Athletics Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Live stats of every match during the 2012 Utah State Invitational are available via the USU Athletics web site at www.utahstateaggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics via GameTracker, with the links for GameTracker as well as box scores and recaps of all the matches at the Tournament Central page at http://bit.ly/NJ8loQ. Match and tournament updates will also be available on twitter at twitter.com/USUVolleyball.
The Utah State matches of the 2012 Utah State Invitational will be streamed on the Internet by clicking on the "Watch Live" link at www.UtahStateAggies.com, the official web site of USU athletics. There is a Utah State All-Access Monthly Subscription for $9.95 and a Utah State All-Access Yearly Subscription for $79.95.
Two of the four visiting teams this weekend have head coaches who have ties to Utah State as Weber State head coach Tom Peterson was head coach for the Aggies from 1999-2000, logging a 36-22 (.621) record, the second-highest winning percentage of USU coaches. During that time, USU head coach Grayson DuBose was an assistant on Peterson's staff. In 2010, Peterson returned to USU and was an assistant on DuBose's WAC Tournament Championship season of 2010.
Southern Utah head coach Debby Nield Baker was a two-year Aggie volleyball letterwinner from 1992-93, earning academic all-Big West honors, and is a 1993 USU alum, graduating Cum Laude with a Marketing degree in 1994. She was also a volunteer assistant coach at USU during the 2000 season. Also, Coach Baker's son is named Logan. Baker also coached at New Mexico State as an assistant coach and director of volleyball operations, where she was the assistant coach from NMSU head coach Michael Jordan, also a Utah State coaching alum.
Utah State returns five starters and eight letterwinners from last year's squad that went 12-17 overall and finished in a tie for fourth-place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 7-7 league record.
Among those returning for USU is senior opposite side hitter Shay Sorensen (North Ogden, Utah), who earned second-team all-WAC honors as a junior and sophomore setter Paige Neves (Otto, Wyo.), who was named to the WAC's all-Freshman team in 2011. Other starters returning for the Aggies include senior outside hitter Josselyn White (Smithfield, Utah), sophomore libero Ashlan Rogers (Highland, Utah) and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff (Draper, Utah).
Adding to the mix are three newcomers in junior college transfer Jocelyn Hobbs (Rexburg, Idaho) along with a pair of in-state signees in freshmen Candace Richins (Kaysville, Utah) and McKell Staheli (Pleasant Grove, Utah). Hobbs is a middle blocker who joins the Aggies from nearby Western Wyoming Junior College while outside hitter Richins comes to USU after a highly-decorated career at Davis High School, and Staheli, a libero, joins the Aggies after a standout career at Pleasant Grove High School.
The Pilots of Portland return five starters plus the libero as part of 12 letterwinners from last season's 8-21 squad. UP led the nation in sets played per match at 4.21. Senior MB Ariel Usher earning all-West Coast Conference honors last year after leading the Pilots with 2.73 kills per set, adding 0.55 blocks per set.. UP is coached by Joe Houck who enters his fifth season as head of the Pilots' program with a 34-86 career record.
The Thunderbirds have five starters back as part of 10 returning letterwinners from last season's team that posted an 11-20 mark. SUU is entering its first season in the Big Sky Conference. Senior outside hitter Analaine Mailoto leads the T-Birds, posting 4.17 kills per set, 3.02 digs per set while adding 0.41 blocks per set a year ago. SUU head coach and Aggie alum Debby Baker is in her 4th season guiding the T-Birds' program and has posted a 35-55 record in her SUU tenure.
The Utes also have five starters as well as the libero returning as part of nine letterwinners from last year's 11-20 team. Utah finished fifth in the NCAA with 3.00 blocks per set last season. The Utes are led by sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Scholfield, who posted 2.95 kills per set, 2.63 digs per set and 0.60 blocks per set on the way to earning Pac-12 all-Freshman honorable mention honors last season. Utah head coach Beth Launiere has a career ledger of 436-258 entering her 23rd season as the Utes' head coach.
The Wildcats have three starters and seven letterwinners returning from last year's team that posted a 3-26 record. One of the returning starters for Weber State is junior outside hitter/middle blocker Briana Wilms, who notched 2.03 kills and 0.95 blocks per set while hitting a team-best .155. WSU head coach and former USU head and assistant coach Tom Peterson is in his second season at the leash of the Wildcats' program, posting a career record of 44-68 as a head coach.
Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program at twitter.com/USUVolleyball or on facebook at facebook.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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