The Utah volleyball team started the season looking like world beaters, then did a complete 180-degree turn by losing their next three matches. Friday night against no. 14 Arizona was more of the same, but the Utes were able to snap their losing streak with a four set victory Sunday over no. 17 Arizona State.
The Utes played host to the Wildcats at Crimson Court Friday, and the visitors came in looking to remain undefeated in conference play. The Utes were just looking for their first conference victory. In the end, the Utes put together a hard-fought effort but lost their third straight three-set conference match. The first set was a tough one, with the Utes falling 25-21. In the second, Utah pushed Arizona to the brink. A Shelby Dalton kill tied the set at 22-22, but Utes eventually fell 25-23. The third set saw the Utes poised to take it when they rallied to take a 23-22 lead. Then, with three straight points, the Wildcats closed out the set 25-23, and the match 3-0.
A determined Utah team took to Crimson Court Sunday to host the Arizona State Sun Devils. Although the Sun Devils have struggled in Salt Lake City, dating back to 1984 when ASU last won, ASU came in nationally ranked and confident. The Utes had lost the first two sets in their previous three Pac-12 contests, and were looking to set the tone from the very first set versus ASU.
The Utes came out strong, winning the first set 25-11. The set featured great efforts by freshman Adora Anae, and Senior Makenzie Moea'i. The Sun Devils came back and took the second set 25-20. In the third set, the Sun Devils looked to be in control, but a couple good scoring runs by Utah helped the Utes take the third 26-24.
Utah will return to action next weekend with back-to-back matches Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-11 in Los Angeles. The Utes will face UCLA on Friday before closing out the weekend at USC on Saturday.
It was ASU's turn to push Utah, and the fourth set went down to the wire. The score remained close, but a kill by Anae, one of many for the freshman in the match, put the Utes up 22-18. The Sun Devils would come back and make it 23-22, but a kill by senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen finished the set and match with a fourth set 25-24 victory.
"I told the team in the locker room that we absolutely earned that win today," said Utah head coach Beth Launiere. "[ASU] did not give us anything and we executed from start to finish. We had just a couple of lapses in set two, but other than that we executed as well as you can."
Anae finished the match with a career high 17 kills. Matching her, Schofield-Olsen had 17 kills also. Leah Aldoph had a season high 21 digs. While Kaelee Kirby led the Utes with 34 assists, and junior Kendall Cygan added 22 assists in the match as well.