Ten up, and 10 down for the University of Utah volleyball team, as they spiked, blocked, and dug their way to a straight sets win over Utah State in Logan tonight. The Utes matched their best start to a season in program history 25-20, 25-23, and 25-19. Utah has now beaten the Aggies three straight and five of the last six.
"We are just trying to get better each day," said head coach Beth Launiere. "We are a long ways away from the team that I think we are going to be and we are just trying to get better, preparing for the Pac-12 and BYU [on Friday] will be a great test for us."
Following a back-and-forth from both teams to start the match, Utah would take an 8-6 lead on a pair of kills from Chelsey Schofield-Olsen and a service ace from Carly Trueman, but the Aggies came right back with a 3-0 run to take a 9-8 lead. Both teams would trade points again until Shelby Dalton tallied a kill to give Utah a 15-12 lead and forced the home squad to take a timeout. Utah would follow with a 6-4 run and later closed with a kill from Eliza Katoa to give Utah the set, 25-20.
The Utes opened the second set with a 5-1 run and later took a 10-5 lead on another kill from Schofield-Olsen, but the Aggies managed to pull within two points following a 3-0 run to make it 10-8. USU would later tie the set 11-11 and both teams would then trade points until an Aggie 3-0 run put USU up 17-15. Schofield-Olsen countered with back-to-back kills and it propelled Utah to a 5-1 run to retake the lead, up 20-18. Both teams would trade points again, but USU never regained the lead and Makenzie Moea’i’s kill gave Utah the set, 25-23, and a 2-0 lead heading into the intermission.
Utah began the third set with a 3-1 lead and later pushed its lead to 11-6, which forced USU to take a timeout. The Utes would then go on an 8-5 run to take a 19-12 lead before USU came back with a 3-0 run to pull within four points. Utah would then close out the rest of the set on a 6-4 run and take the set 25-19 and sweep the Aggies.
"We played well, passed well and blocked well at times tonight," said Launiere. "We had a lot of offensive weapons going for us tonight with Chelsey having a big match. But really, Chelsey and Lea [Adolph] did well making great passes and that was a big key for us."
Schofield-Olsen finished the match with a season-high 15 kills and both her and Dalton tallied a team-high eight digs as well. Kalee Kirby finished the match with a team-high 18 assists and Trueman notched a match-high five total blocks. Schofield-Olsen has now tallied 10 kills or more in six straight matches dating back to Sept. 6.
Utah finished the evening hitting .311 as a team and limited the USU offense to just .159 hitting on the night. Utah has now out-blocked its opponent in nine of 10 matches this season after recording 9.0 team blocks to USU’s 4.0 blocks.
'I thought it was a good situation to come in an play on another team's home court with that kind of environment," said Launiere. It will be very similar to what we are going to see on Friday and I thought it was good for us to get an in-state win on their home court."
The Aggies, the first opponent on the Utes seven-game road swing, fall to 4-6 on the season. Utah State had just returned from a tournament in Hawaii where the women from Logan took a set from no. 25 UCLA, though they did fall in four sets. That bodes well for Utah, as they'll face the Bruins in Malibu on Oct. 10.
Next up for the Utes is a 7 pm showdown this Friday in Provo with 12th ranked BYU. The 7-2 Cougars have swept every one of the opponents they've beaten this season, and their only losses have been to no. 5 Washington (2-3) and no. 14 Colorado State (1-3). Beth Launiere's undefeated Utes will have their work cut out for them in a hostile gym, but beating their rivals to the south would go a long way toward seeing Utah in the national rankings, which would then give the Pac-12 an astonishing eight teams in the Top 25.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Utes down Aggies 25-19 in final set and move to 10-0 on the season, matching the best start to a season in school history. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoUtes?src=hash">#GoUtes</a></p>— Utah Volleyball (@UtahVolleyball) <a href="https://twitter.com/UtahVolleyball/status/512428021366947840">September 18, 2014</a></blockquote>
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