The Jon M. Huntsman Center is home sweet home for No. 23 Utah, as they defeated a top-ranked team for a school record fifth time this season, knocking off the No. 13-ranked Oregon Ducks in four sets (25-23, 17-25, 25-16, 25-21) Tuesday night.
"I do not even know how to explain this one," said Utah head coach Beth Launiere. "I was nervous about this match and worried about [Oregon's] speed. You could see there in the second set, they are like their football team. They can score points really fast. We were battling with them, and then all of a sudden, they get five quick points. We made a significant blocking adjustment, and that made a really big difference."
The Utes, who snapped a four-match losing skid to Oregon, have turned around what was a five-match losing streak by winning six of their last seven, including four over ranked opponents. Utah improved to 18-12 overall and 8-11 in conference play. Meanwhile, the Ducks dropped to 21-8 on the season and 11-8 in Pac-12 play following just its second loss in the previous six matches.
After being out-blocked in the first set, 3.5 to 1.0, Utah rallied to finish the match with 9.0 team blocks to Oregon's 7.5 total. Senior Bailey Bateman led the charge with seven total blocks, while seniors Chelsey Schofield-Olsen and Shelby Dalton added a solo block and a pair of block assists each.
The Utes led by as many as six points, up 22-16 late in the first set, but Oregon managed to cut into the deficit with a 6-1 run and pull within a point and trailed just 23-22. Freshman Adora Anae registered a kill to help put the Utes up set-point and Dalton later closed out the set with her kill to give Utah the win in the first-set, 25-23.
After falling behind early 3-1, Utah would come back to tie it at three-all with a kill from Dalton and a service ace from senior Lea Adolph, but an 8-3 run pushed Oregon's lead to 11-6 and the Ducks never looked back. Redshirt freshman Carly Trueman would register three kills in a four-point span to get the Utes back within two points, but a late 4-0 run would give Oregon a 20-14 lead in the set. The Ducks closed out the set with a 5-2 run to win, 25-17, and headed into intermission tied with the Utes 1-1.
After trading points to open the third set, Schofield-Olsen would open a 5-0 run with a kill, and then later had a solo block and another kill to give the Utes an 8-4 lead, which forced Oregon to take a timeout. Utah added to the run with a service ace from junior Kendall Cygan and a kill from senior Makenzie Moea'i before the Ducks came back to score three of the next four points. The Utes came right back though with a 5-1 run and the Ducks called its final timeout of the set, down 16-8. Oregon would win three of the next five points out of the break, but Utah's offense was too strong for the visiting squad and the Utes took a 2-1 lead following a 25-16 win in the third set. Anae and Dalton led the Utes with four kills each in the set and Utah outhit the Ducks .370 to .061.
The fourth set would go back-and-forth as both teams traded points throughout, and after 18 ties and 19 different lead changes, the set was even at 20-all. Bateman and Anae collected back-to-back kills to give Utah a 22-20 advantage and that forced the Ducks to call a timeout. Oregon won the next point with a kill from Serena Warner, but the Utes closed out the match with three consecutive points to take the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.
Utah had a season-high four players register double-doubles in the match with Schofield-Olsen posting a team-high 13 kills and 11 digs, Anae recording 11 kills and 13 digs, senior Kalee Kirby collecting 26 assists and 10 digs, and Cygan notching 23 assists and 12 digs.
The Utes had four players record double-digit kills as Trueman and Dalton both added 10 kills each. Trueman hit .450 on the evening and Utah finished hitting .233 as a team. Adolph led the team in the back row with 17 digs, while also collecting six assists and a recording a team-high three service aces as well.
"The experience of this team is really stepping up right now," Launiere said. "They know what it takes to get ready. We are an experienced group with some really good freshmen and juniors mixed in, but I think this senior class is really starting to come together in terms of preparing every night."
The Utes are back in action this Friday on senior day, hosting No. 18 Colorado in the regular-season finale. Utah will honor six seniors before the first serve, set for 12 p.m. MT and to be aired live on the Pac-12 Networks.