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Utah Volleyball: Utes Prepare for Los Angeles Schools

The road gets no easier for the 11-4, 1-3 Utes, as they travel to Southern California to take on the No. 17 Bruins and the No. 20 Trojans.

The Utah volleyball team heads to Southern California this weekend to take on the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans, both Top 25 teams.
The Utah volleyball team heads to Southern California this weekend to take on the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans, both Top 25 teams.
University of Utah Athletics

The road in the Pac-12 conference can be brutal in any sport, but in women's sports it can be almost unfair. This weekend, the University of Utah volleyball team (11-4, 1-3 Pac-12) travels to Los Angeles, Calif. to face the No. 17 UCLA Bruins (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) and the No. 20 USC Trojans (8-6, 1-3 Pac-12) this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-11.

The Lady Utes will start off the weekend against UCLA this Friday in Malibu, Calif., at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse at 9 p.m. (MT). Friday's match against the Bruins will have live stats and a live web stream will be provided as well by UCLABruins.com.

For the Utes, Chelsey Schofield-Olsen leads Utah with 184 kills and a 3.47 kills per set average. Senior Bailey Bateman leads the team in hitting (.333) and total blocks (65), while senior Shelby Dalton has a team-high 128 digs (2.42/set) on the season. Senior Kalee Kirby leads the Utes with 284 assists and junior Kendall Cygan follows with 215 assists. Bateman and Adolph each have a team-best eight service aces on the season.

The Lady Utes continue to benefit from the play of freshman outside hitter Adora Anae, who opened Pac-12 play with 14 kills at Colorado back on Sept. 25 and then set a new career-high with 17 kills against Arizona State this past weekend. In four Pac-12 matches, Anae has tallied 43 kills and is ninth in the conference hitting .370 in those matches.

On the other side of the net, the Bruins are coming off a 1-1 weekend, falling to No. 4 Washington (25-18, 26-24, 17-25, 20-25, 10-15) in five sets before picking up a road victory over Washington State (26-24, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23). UCLA, who is 8-2 in its last 10 matches, is 11-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.

UCLA's Karsta Lowe leads the Bruins with 281 kills and her 6.11 kills per set ranks first both in the Pac-12 and in the nation. Julie Consani has 585 assists on the season and she currently ranks second in the nation with 11.94 assists per set. Taylor Formico has a team-high 193 digs and Zoe Nightingale leads UCLA with 43 total blocks.

The Bruins are hitting .280 on the year and ranks first in the nation in both kills (14.43/set) and assists (15.39/set). UCLA is averaging 1.2 service aces, 13.84 digs and 3.08 blocks per set.

Saturday's match at USC will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Josh Lewin providing play-by-play and Kevin Wong providing color commentary. Saturday’s match with USC is at the Galen Center on Saturday at 8 p.m. (MT).

Utah is hitting .245 on the season and is giving up just a .172 attacking percentage to opposing squads, which ranks fourth in the Pac-12.  The Utes are averaging 13.68 kills per set on the season and 12.64 assists per set as well. Heading into the weekend, Utah is collecting 13.60 digs and 2.73 blocks per set.

The Trojans are just 2-3 in its past five matches, which includes going 1-1 this past weekend with a loss to No. 4 Washington (15-25, 20-25, 19-25) and a win over Washington State (20-25, 25-19, 27-25, 20-25, 15-11). The Trojans are 8-6 overall, but have dropped six of its past eight matches.

Samantha Bricio leads the Trojans in multiple categories, including kills (191), kills per set (3.67), service aces (42) and aces per set (0.81). Her 42 aces and 0.81 aces per set currently rank second in the nation in both categories. Hayley Crone leads the team with 290 assists and Alice Pizzasegola follows with 266 assists on the season. Taylor Whittingham has a team-high 186 digs and Alicia Ogoms leads the team with 47 total blocks.

USC is hitting .249 as a team and averages 13.44 kills per set. The Trojans are averaging 12.29 assists, 14.71 digs and 2.04 blocks per set as well.

Utah is 2-14 overall when facing UCLA and 12-1 against USC. The Utes defeated the Bruins in four sets last season in Los Angeles, but fell to the Trojans in three sets in Salt Lake City.

UCLA has won six of the previous seven meetings and is 4-1 against the Utes in Pac-12 play. USC has a current nine-match winning streak over Utah, which includes a 5-0 mark in Pac-12 matches.

Utah is 1-4 when facing UCLA on the road and 1-3 on the road against USC.