With the Utah State Blue-White basketball scrimmage less than 10 days away, fans can start to anticipate checking out the new-look Aggies.
Head coach Ryan Odom took over a men’s program that has made it to the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game three straight years and earned trips to the Big Dance for three consecutive seasons. The first-year coach hopes to see his team making progress every day.
“Certainly offensively and defensively you’ve got to implement all of you schemes,” Odom said in an interview a week ago. “You are not going to have everything in by the first scrimmage. We’re in a better position than the NBA. I was talking to Sam Merrill the other day. ... They have a week from when they start camp to their first exhibition game. For us, we’ve been going for a bit.”
The Aggies will have a closed scrimmage this Saturday. Then they will welcome fans to watch the team on Thursday, Oct. 21.
Preseason media polls from the league will come out next week. Having had so much success, there will be plenty of high expectations from fans at USU. The new coach realizes that, but isn’t going to get too caught up in that.
“I’m not really concerned about that (expectations), to be honest because we don’t want to put limitations on ourselves,” Odom said. “This program has competed for championships not only the last three years but in years past. That is one of the reasons I’m here, the wealth of tradition here at Utah State and the interest in our program. We certainly want to compete for championships, no different than any other year.”
Odom is excited about the 2021-22 team, calling it “versatile.” There are veterans that have been Aggies for a while, as well as veterans that have played at other programs.
The Aggies first game will be on Oct. 27, when they welcome Montana Western to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for an exhibition game.
The Aggies snapped a three-game skid Sunday afternoon with a thrilling 1-0 overtime win against Mountain West Conference foe San Jose State at Chuck & Gloria Bell Field.
USU keeper Diera Walton made a game-saving one-v-one stop in the 92nd minute, and then the Aggies were able to attack in transition. Midfielder Ashley Cardozo played a long ball to a streaking Sara Taylor. The junior forward took a touch to her left foot and powered the ball past the SJSU keeper in the 94th minute to notch the golden goal and give the Aggies the victory.
The win moved first-year head coach Manny Martins into a tie for the most victories by a rookie head coach in USU history. Martins could break the record of 10 with a win over the final five matches of the season.
USU (10-4-1, 3-3-0 MW) dictated play with its shot difference after trailing opponents in shots in each of the last four contests. Taylor was a relentless attacker throughout the match, leading the Aggies with eight shots, including four on frame. USU finished with 22 shots to the Spartans’ 13. The 22 shots are the second-most by the Aggies this season.
Freshman Bizzy Arevalo, starting in the middle of USU’s attacking front for the first time this season, logged four shots, with one on goal. In goal, Walton finished with eight saves, as San Jose State (6-8-0, 3-3-0 MW) used a pair of keepers during the match with each logging three saves.
The Aggies are an unbeaten 6-0-3 all-time against the Spartans in Logan.
USU begins the final stretch of the year on the road in Colorado, facing Air Force on Thursday, followed by a contest at Colorado College on Sunday.
The Aggies were able to bounce back and finish their road trip with a win at Air Force Saturday afternoon in four sets, 25-11, 25-19, 17-25, 15-14.
USU (12-6, 4-2 MW) had several hot hitters, led by middle blocker Kennedi Boyd. She hit .812 on the day with 13 kills, tying the program record for hitting percentage on 15 of 19 attempts. Boyd, who was named the America First Credit Union USU Student-Athlete of the Week on Monday, was joined in double figures in kills by outside hitter Tatum Stall with 12 and outside hitter Kristy Frank with 10.
Setter Kalena Vaivai led the Aggies with 28 assists, while libero Abby Peterson had a team-high 15 digs. Middle blocker Corinne Larsen led the Aggies with four blocks.
USU hit .322 on the day, holding Air Force to a .111 attack.
The Aggies are home for two matches next week. They will host UNLV on Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by a match against San Diego State on Saturday at 1 p.m.