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Utah Volleyball Captures Lipscomb Invitational Title

Beth Launiere's Utes are off to the second best start in school history, having opened the season with nine straight wins.

Sophomore libero Tess Sutton (left) and her teammate Shelby Dalton have helped their Utes to a 9-0 record to start the 2014 season.
Sophomore libero Tess Sutton (left) and her teammate Shelby Dalton have helped their Utes to a 9-0 record to start the 2014 season.
University of Utah Athletics

Utah senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen recorded 11 kills Saturday evening and was later named the Lipscomb Invitational MVP after leading the Utes to a 3-1 win over the Lady Bisons (25-18, 25-17, 15-25, 25-22) at Allen Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

This win is important for the Utes, as seven Pac-12 teams are currently ranked in the Top 25, including no. 1 Stanford. Lipscomb isn't ranked but is in the "others receiving votes" category at roughly no. 27. The experience of winning on the road will serve the team well as the gear up for a Sept. 19th date in Provo versus their rivals to the south, ninth ranked BYU.

Utah’s six-match winning streak with a sweep over an opponent came to an end Saturday evening, but the Utes still managed to remain perfect on the season and moved to 9-0 with the victory over Lipscomb and win the Lipscomb Invitational with a record of 3-0 on the weekend.

Utah has now won nine consecutive matches to start the season – the team’s second-best start in school history – and the Utes moved to 2-0 in true road contests on the season as well. Lipscomb, who went 1-2 in the tournament, fell to 6-4 overall with the loss.

Neither team would lead by more than three points until late in the first set Utah’s Shelby Dalton opened a 6-0 run with a kill and Lipscomb was forced to call a timeout, down 20-12. The Lady Bisons would win the next three points Utah countered with a 5-3 run to take the set 25-18.

Lipscomb opened the second set with a 2-0 lead and later led 10-7 following a 4-0 run. Utah countered though its own 4-0 run to take an 11-10 lead midway through the set. The Lady Bisons took five of the next eight points, but the Utes came right back with 4-0 run and later led 18-15.

Lipscomb pulled within two points, down 18-16, but back-to-back points from Utah forced the Lady Bisons to take another timeout, down 20-16. The Lady Bison won the next point, but that would prove to be the last point of the set for the home team as Utah closed the set with a 5-0 run and win 25-17.

The Utes would take a 3-1 lead to open the third set and later led 8-5, but a 4-0 run gave Lipscomb the lead and the Utes would have just one more lead throughout the remainder of the set. With the set tied 12-12, Lipscomb used a 2-0 run to take a 14-12 lead and then followed Utah’s point with a 7-0 run to take a 23-14 advantage. The Utes managed to get a point off an attack error, but back-to-back kills gave the Lady Bisons the 25-15 win.

With the loss, Utah dropped its first set to an opponent since falling to Missouri State in the third set back on Aug. 30, in Salt Lake City.

Utah would lead 12-8 midway through the fourth set, but the Lady Bisons made it a 12-11 game on a kill from Sophie Kellerman and later went up 16-14, which forced Utah to call a timeout. Back-to-back points from the Utes out of the break tied the set at 16-16 before Lipscomb stopped the mini run with a kill form Lauren Ford.

With the set tied 17-17, Ford recorded a pair of attack errors and that in turn forced the Lady Bisons to take a timeout, down 19-17. Lipscomb scored the first point following the break, but a 3-0 run pushed Utah’s lead to 21-18 and Lipscomb had to call its final timeout of the set.

Utah would go up set-point 24-20 before Lipscomb managed to get a pair of points, but senior Shelby Dalton put the match away with a kill that gave Utah the set, 25-22, and the match 3-1.

Schofield-Olsen recorded a team-high 11 kills for the Utes and senior Kalee Kirby collected her second straight double-double of the day with 17 assists and 10 digs.

Dalton led Utah with 14 digs in the match and senior Bailey Bateman added a team-high six total blocks.

Freshman Eliza Katoa, who had seven kills in the match, was named to the all-tournament team, as was Bateman.

Lipscomb’s Brittnay Estes had a match-high 13 kill and Kayla Ostrom registered a match-high 40 assists.

Next up for the Utes are the Aggies of Utah State on Wednesday night in Logan at 7 p.m. MT, before traveling to Provo on Friday for a match at 7 p.m.