The University of Utah Lady Utes (10-3, 0-2 Pac-12) face off with the no. 14 University of Arizona Volleycats (12-1, 1-0 Pac-12) at 8 p.m. MT, tonight at Crimson Court.
Outside of Pac-12 play, the Utes only loss came at BYU on September 19. The Utes dropped the match in three tough sets where the Cougars took advantage of their home crowd at Smith Field house. The Volleycats loss came at Texas in similar fashion.
Arizona will look to senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon and the upcoming talent of Ashley Harris who shined brightly for them in their recent win against Arizona State. The Wildcats have won seven straight dating back to Sept. 13, and the squad is coming off a pair of wins to open Pac-12 play, with victories over then No. 19-ranked Arizona State and No. 20-ranked UCLA. Arizona and ASU went five sets before the Wildcats prevailed. Meanwhile, the Wildcats managed to sweep the Bruins in straight sets in Los Angeles. Arizona has just played three official road contests this season and are 2-1 overall in those matches. The Wildcats are currently 1-0 on the road in conference matches.
Arizona comes into Friday’s match ranked second in the Pac-12, with 14.59 kills/set, while ranking 49th overall and first in the league with 16.04 digs/set. Kingdon leads her team and ranks first in both the nation and the Pac-12 with 14.33 attacks/set. She ranks third in the nation and second in the conference with 5.48 kills/set, as well.
On the other side of the net, Utah will rely on the consistent play of senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen and the upcoming talent of Adora Anae. Also for the Utes is the team blocking leader Bailey Bateman who is a powerful defensive force on the front line. Schofield-Olsen leads the team with 161 total kills, 3.50 kills/set and 110 total digs, while Bateman has a team-high 54 total blocks and currently ranks 46th in the nation (fifth in Pac-12) with 1.26 blocks/set.
Utah currently ranks sixth in the league with 2.59 blocks/set and has out-blocked the opposition in 11 of its 13 matches so far this season. The squad managed to set new season-highs with 13.5 total team blocks in both matches last week. On the season, Utah is out-blocking the opposition 119.0 to 72.0 overall. The Utes have 18 solo blocks and 202 block assists on the season, with just 16 blocking errors.
The Lady Utes suffered two very difficult losses in Pac-12 play against the University of Colorado Buffaloes (9-5, 1-1 Pac-12) and the Oregon State Beavers (11-2, 1-1 Pac-12). Both matches were 2-3 losses for the Utes and were as close as two oints and three points respectively. The Lady Utes look to bounce back, as they will enjoy home court advantage for the match with the Volleycats.
The last meeting these two teams had was November 14, 2013 at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. That match saw the Volleycats beat the Lady Ute TopSpinners by a margin of three sets to zero. Certainly, Utah head coach Beth Launiere wants a different outcome and some momentum in conference play.