After knocking off the preseason conference favorite and extending its winning streak to four, the Utah State volleyball team got some good news Monday from the league office.
Middle blocker Kaitlyn VanHoff was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week. This is the first time she has been honored by the WAC.
“It’s such an honor; it’s so amazing to be able to get that,” said VanHoff of the award Monday after practice. “... It’s always exciting, always surprising.”
The sophomore from Draper averaged 2.12 blocks and 2.0 kills per set, while hitting .300 for the week.
“I felt the whole front row did really well blocking, reading the hitters and making sure we were pressing over,” VanHoff said. “I think we all did well.”
She posted a career-high .333 attack percentage and added seven total blocks in USU’s sweep of New Mexico State last Thursday. It was the first setback for NMSU and propelled the Aggies from Logan into first place in the WAC.
“She played well and kept us in system,” USU head coach Grayson DuBose said on VanHoff. “She is what we call our ‘block head.’ When she is in the front row, she is in charge of our block. That was evident in her play. She did a great job keeping us in system defensively.”
On Saturday against Denver, VanHoff tied a career high with 10 block assists in a five-set win. She registered four blocks in the third set. Van Hoff entered the week averaging 1.30 kills on .144 hitting and 1.21 blocks per set.
“She’s gotten better and feels more comfortable,” DuBose said. “... She has really taken some ownership with that block.”
VanHoff said she has been preparing herself better mentally and studying the scouting report more. Being more focused has also been part of her regiment.
“I guess all the preparation has made a difference,” VanHoff said. “... As a team, we have really come together well and are working together. Even when we have little ruts, we are getting out of them quick. We are playing, as a team, a lot better.”
The coach complimented the sophomore, but also pointed out it has taken a team effort to build a 12-5 overall record and a 7-1 league mark.
“We always look at as this a team award,” DuBose said. “... We have a nice team around her, so that makes a big difference. When we are passing well, it’s easier to set her. Paige (Neves) is setting well. It’s all kind of a symbiotic relationship.”