LOGAN — Fourth-year Utah State volleyball coach Burt Fuller doesn't have time to dwell on the past — he has too many pressing issues facing him in the present.

Sure, the Aggies (18-12 overall, fifth in the Big West Conference) deserved a berth in the NCAA Tournament last year, but that's all water under the bridge now.

"We haven't used that just as our sole quest, but sure the kids want to get back in there," he said. "Right now, we're focused on getting the new kids back playing. We want to play well. We don't want to look at the end of the season."

Injuries, transfers and inexperience face Fuller as the Aggies open Big West action today when they host Cal State Northridge (3-3).

Sophomore outside hitter Beth Hodge, who was named to the Big West all-freshman team, suffered a stress fracture in her leg and is out for the year.

Sophomore outside hitter Mari Ruddick, who was also named to the BWC all-freshman team, has been hampered by a bad back, but will still be counted on to contribute.

Setter Andrea Delsinge, No. 5 on the all-time USU assists list, transferred during the offseason, forcing junior Zuzana Cernianska into double duty as an opposite hitter and setter. Sophomore Dominique Arsenault, who played in 48 games last year, will also share in the setting duties.

As for inexperience, eight of the 13 players on the roster are underclassmen (six freshmen, three sophomores). Outside hitter Kindy Peterson is the team's only senior.

In preseason, the Aggies have taken their lumps by going just 1-4, but it was a time for the team to gel before opening conference play. In all fairness, however, the Aggies lost to (No. 6) Stanford, Nevada and Utah (who started the year No. 24). The Aggies' lone win came over a week ago at Idaho State (3-1).

"It was a little bit of an eye-opener for our young kids," Fuller said. "Some of the young kids had to go and play against some very good teams on the road."

Utah State will hook its anchors on Cernianska, a BWC first-team selection, middle blocker Ingrid Roth and Ruddick.

Cernianska had 471 kills, 229 digs and 45 blocks, and as a freshman she had 412 assists as setter. Roth registered 210 kills, 48 digs and 113 blocks, while Ruddick finished with 252 kills, 137 digs and 106 blocks.

Currently, Cernianska leads the team with 81 kills and is second with 14 blocks and 57 assists and third with 38 digs.

Arsenault leads the team with 155 assists.

Peterson is second on the team in kills (57) and digs (46) while redshirt freshman Carolyn Forbush has 40 kills and 33 digs.

Sophomore Kelsi Thoman leads the team with 63 digs.

Junior Erin Graybill has posted 27 kills and 12 blocks.

Freshmen Monarisa Ale (Kahuku, Hawaii), Amanda Fahnestock (Eagle, Idaho) and Amanda Orgill (Granger HS) have seen spot time.


The Aggies close out the first week of BWC play Saturday when they host Pacific at 2 p.m.

Utah State has three more non-conference home games: BYU (Sept. 28), Weber State Oct. 12 and Hawaii (Nov. 23).


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com