Utah State volleyball: Aggies ready to star in new digs
Logan • Kicked back in a big comfy chair and enjoying the warmth of the morning sun beaming through a large window, Utah State volleyball coach Grayson DuBose joked that his head was getting as big as his new office in the recently opened $9.7 million Wayne Estes Center.
Ah, but such plush surroundings come with more than a large construction price tag: there are expectations too, some as grand sounding as the building looks.
Luckily for the Aggies, if there is any team that seems best prepared to handle thoughts of success it would be the volleyball team.
The Aggies went 20-11 overall last year and finished third in league play with a 13-7 mark.
It was the second 20-win season in a row and third in four years for DuBose's crew.
With four starters returning, led by all-Mountain West honoree hitter Elle Brainard, the Aggies have the experience they need to be a contender in the MWC.
Unlike 2013, the Aggies also have a better idea of what to expect in the MWC too, said senior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court.
"Last year, we hadn't played any of the teams before so we didn't know how we'd do," she said. "Having that experience helps because we know what to expect from other teams and we know what their gyms are like and that kind of thing. We're going to be used to things right away."
The Aggies also feel like they have something to defend in their new, 32,000-square foot building. The facility boasts a training room, players' lounge, strength and conditioning areas, and a 1,400-seat competition floor. The Aggies are proud of their facility and the last thing they want to do is break all the good mojo it brings by having a bad season.
"It's beautiful, and we can't wait to get the fans in there and have the whole atmosphere," Rogers-Court said. "It's 100 times better than what we had."
To take advantage of the buzz around the program, the Aggies are implementing a season ticket sales program for the first time. It wasn't something DuBose thought necessary when the Aggies were playing in the Spectrum, but now he hopes more intimate seating will create an even better atmosphere.
"We averaged 1,200 fans last year, and our building seats 1,400, so hopefully we can carry that over," DuBose said. "It could be a good jumping off point for us."
The Aggies will know right away what they are in for in 2014 with a tough schedule that opens with a tournament with Idaho State, Oregon State and Saint Mary's.
It might be tough, but like his view from his new office, DuBose sees nothing but beautiful things in the future.
"Our goal is to always compete for championships," he said. "They don't pay me to lose."
USU volleyball overview
Expectations • With four starters and their libero returning, the Aggies believe they can contend for the MWC title.
Coach • Grayson DuBose, 9th season (133-109)
2013 record • 20-11/13-7 (3rd) MWC
Notable returner • Elle Brainard, junior middle blocker was an all-Mountain West player last year after averaging 1.41 blocks and 1.69 kills per set
Notable loss • Sophomore Carly Lenzen will miss the season after injuring her knee and will redshirt.