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Off to its best start in program history, the Aggie soccer team will now turn its attention to league play.

Utah State (7-1-1) hosts Nevada (1-5-0) on Friday at 4 p.m. The Mountain West Conference game will be played at Chuck and Gloria Bell Field. The Aggies have the best non-conference record in the MW.

USU is currently ranked seventh in the Pacific Region of the United Soccer Coaches’ poll. The Aggies are the only team in the MW and one of only two teams outside the Pac-12 appearing in the poll. The Pacific Region is made up of teams from the Western Athletic Conference, Pac-12 and MW.

On Monday, USU swept the MW weekly awards as senior midfielder Ashley Cardozo was named the Offensive Player of the Week, junior keeper Diera Walton was named the Defensive Player of the Week and freshman midfielder Tenzi Knowles was named the Freshman of the Week. Cardozo leads the MW in total points (14) with four goals (second in the MW) and a league-best six assists. Cardozo is also second in the league in total shots (21). Walton leads the MW with three shutouts this season and is second in goals-against-average (.722) and total saves (42).

As a team, USU leads the MW in total shots (127), corner kicks (46), total assists (16) and save percentage (.857).

The Aggies are 13-7-0 all-time against Nevada, including a perfect 8-0 record at home. In the last meeting in Logan, USU posted a 1-0 victory over the Wolf Pack as Cardozo recorded the game winner from the penalty spot in the 90th minute.

Sophomore defender Kelsey Steed-Kaufusi and Walton are the only two Aggies on the roster to play in every minute of every contest this season.

VOLLEYBALL

The Aggie spikers also start MW play this week, but hit the road. USU (8-4) is at Wyoming (8-4) on Thursday.

At 8-4, the Aggies are off to their best start to a season since 2010, when they began that year 11-1. The non-conference record is the best in five seasons.

In his second season, USU head coach Rob Neilson is coaching his first non-conference slate as last season was shortened and only league matches due to COVID. The 8-4 (.667) non-conference record this season marks the best record by a USU head coach in their debut season. Prior to this season, the best non-conference record by a first-year head coach came in 1976, the first year of the program, when co-head coaches Marilyn McReavy and Mary Jo Peppler went 9-6 (.600).

USU is 17-25 all-time against Wyoming in a series that dates back to 1976. The Cowgirls have won the last six contests, including a pair of matches in Logan during the conference-only 2020 season. USU’s last win over Wyoming came in 2017 in Laramie.

In the Sept. 15 win at Southern Utah, USU hit .356, setting the program record for hitting percentage in a four-set match. The percentage surpasses the previous record of .347 set in a match at Idaho on Oct. 6, 2010.

CROSS COUNTRY

The USU men’s cross country remained at No. 17 in Week 2 of the NCAA DI Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll.

The Aggies garnered 141 points and are the fourth-highest ranked team from the Mountain Region, trailing No. 1 Northern Arizona (329 points; 10 first-place votes), No. 3 BYU (295) and No. 8 Colorado (249). USU is the lone representative from the Mountain West in the top-25 poll.

On Tuesday, the Aggies received a trio of MW accolades as senior Mark Crandall was named the MW Cross Country Men’s Athlete of the Week, while freshmen Emma Thornley and Garrett Woodhouse each took home MW Freshman of the Week honors on the women’s and men’s sides, respectively.

GYMNASTICS

The Aggies held their first official practice of the 2021-22 campaign on Monday.

USU returns 11 gymnasts from last year’s team that enjoyed one of its finest seasons in program history as the Aggies competed in their 26th NCAA Regional Championship — the first since 2017. The Aggies ended the year ranked No. 25 in the nation, their best finish since finishing 15th in 1999.

Junior Sofi Sullivan, who opted out of her sophomore season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is back.

“We have never been more excited about an official first day of practice since I have been here,” fifth-year head coach Amy Smith said in a press release. “We had the very best testing day last Thursday, and everybody on the team has upped their level, so we are starting much further along than we have in years past, which is beyond exciting.

“We also just came off the most productive retreat weekend we have ever had. The team has bought in completely, top to bottom, which was a very welcomed nuance from years past. The energy in the gym was intentional, focused and fun, which was incredible. We are expecting another stellar year for Aggie gymnastics.”

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