LOGAN, Utah – Utah State volleyball (3-1) broke out the brooms for its home opener as USU swept in-state rival Utah (1-2) in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,488 fans on Wednesday.
“It’s an unbelievable environment in here,” head coach Rob Neilson said. “We’re so excited for just the energy that’s been created and the momentum that’s been created. Our fanbase is coming back, and new fans we won over tonight with just how fun it is in here. Obviously, we’re really excited about our group. We’re deep. We’re talented. We played the game really well in a lot of different areas.”
The match marked the first time the Aggies have sold out the Wayne Estes Center since Utah State and Utah met on Sept. 1, 2015. It broke a seven-match losing streak against Utah as the last time the time the Aggies defeated the Utes was a 3-1 victory on Aug. 28, 2010.
Junior opposite side hitter Adna Mehmedovic led the Aggies with 10 kills, while graduate middle blocker Kennedi Boyd led the team with a .417 (5-0-12) attack percentage. Sophomore setter Leah Wilton-LaBoy had a team-high 20 assists.
Utah State once again proved itself to be a tough wall to break through as the Aggies totaled 13.0 team blocks, including seven solos, in the match. Mehmedovic led the effort with six blocks, while Boyd logged five and senior middle blocker Kelsey Watson added four. Freshman libero Kambree Rodriguez recorded a match-best 10 digs.
“It was amazing,” Boyd said. “Club Estes is as loud as it gets in any volleyball arena. We’re so grateful for the people that came and supported us. We worked really hard this summer and we didn’t feel like we played our very best, but it just shows how much room for growth we have and how much we’re capable of.”
After the Utes took a 3-1 advantage to start the first set, the Aggies answered with four-straight points to take the lead. The set continued to stay close with no team scoring more than two consecutive points until a 5-0 Aggie run, featuring a Mehmedovic block and kills from Mehmedovic, Watson and graduate outside Shelby Capllonch, gave Utah State a 22-17 edge. USU maintained its lead and a Capllonch hammer secured the 25-20 victory.
It was the Aggies who took a 3-1 lead in set two, but a 6-1 Ute run later gave Utah the 9-7 edge. After trading points, an 8-2 USU run, capped by a block from senior opposite Tatum Stall, gave Utah State the 17-13 advantage. Utah came back to tie it at 21-each, but a 4-1 Aggie run to end the second gave USU the 25-22 win.
Utah came out hot in set three, taking an early 5-1 lead. Utah State slowly chipped away at the deficit until a Capllonch kill and Ute attack error tied it at 13-apiece. Back-to-back Schneggenburger kills followed by a Ute set error gave USU its first lead of the set at 20-19. After some back and forth, a kill from Mehmedovic, block by Mehmedovic and Boyd, and a Boyd kill put the Aggies at match point 24-21. Utah scored once more before the final hammer from Boyd clinched the 25-22 victory and match sweep.
Overall, USU hit .157 (35-18-108), while holding Utah to a .072 (32-25-97) mark.
Utah State continues its homestand hosting Weber State (2-1) on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m.
Season tickets for the 2023 Utah State volleyball season are on sale now.
Fans can follow the Aggie volleyball program on Twitter, @USUVolleyball, on Facebook at /USUVolleyball or on Instagram, @usuvolleyball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter, @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and on Instagram, @USUAthletics.