It will be all Aggies tonight in a battle of the top volleyball teams in the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah State opens a five-match homestand — the longest for the program since 2000 — by hosting New Mexico State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. First serve is scheduled for 7 o’clock.

“It’s always fun to play in front of your home crowd against a good team,” Aggie head coach Grayson DuBose said. “We would love a ton of people to come out, because it should be an exciting match.”

NMSU is the lone team left with a perfect WAC record at 5-0. The southern Aggies are 11-4 overall.

“They are a good volleyball team and well coached,” DuBose said of NMSU. “They will come in here ready to play. Traditionally, they’ve been very good in our conference.”

NMSU head coach Mike Jordan is a former USU assistant coach, having spent two seasons (1996-97) with the northern Aggies.

USU (10-5, 5-1 WAC) comes into this evening’s match having swept a road trip last weekend. The Aggies only league setback came in their last home outing at the hands of Idaho.

DuBose feels his team learned from the loss against the Vandals and are up for the challenge it will face tonight.

“Winning on the road has been a big concern for us, and I think we are getting there,” DuBose said. “We’re going to bounce back from that last home match. That was just one of those funky things that happens.”

Like most balanced matches, the outcome will most likely come down to serving and serve receive.

“If we can serve tough and keep them out of system, then receive serve well and stay in system, I like our chances,” DuBose said. “... If you can do that, you become a better team.”

USU is 26-39 all-time against NMSU. USU has won three of the last four meetings, including a five-set win in the last meeting last season in Logan.

The blue-clad Aggies lead the WAC in blocking (2.96 per set) and rank 10th nationally. Elle Brainard is second in the conference and seventh in the NCAA with 1.55 blocks per set.

Seniors Shay Sorensen and Josselyn White were praised for their leadership.

NMSU is led by outside hitter Meredith Hays, who is second in the WAC with 4.22 kills per set. The sophomore, who was the preseason WAC Player of the Year, is also second in the league for points per set (4.82) and is sixth in the WAC for service aces per set (0.28).

“She is good,” DuBose said of Hays. “She does a nice job.”

Tonight’s match is the start of USU's “Dig for a Cure” campaign as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and will be helping raise money for the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation’s Breast Cancer Services. Pledges are now being gathered for every dig the Aggies make during their seven home matches in October.

For each dig, the Aggies are asking for a donation of $0.25. Half of this donation will go to the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation to assist in Breast Cancer Services, while the other half will be used to support the USU volleyball team. Pledges can be made in any amount and flat donations are also accepted. Pledge and donation forms will be available on the west concourse of the Spectrum.

Tonight's match is also Thirsty Thursday, with fans getting a free small drink with the purchase of $3 or more at the USU concession stand.

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sharrison@hjnews.com

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