Volleyball: All Eyes Set On The Prize

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There is a common understanding among the U women’s volleyball team, the ultimate goal of winning an NCAA Championship that will be a combination of the smaller goals that it has embraced as a team.

After coming off a losing season last year, 10-21 overall and 4-16 in Pac-12 Conference play, the team is looking to turn things around.

Adora Anae, an outside hitter, developed into a solid player for Utah last season. Anae led the team with 501 kills, 388 digs, 22 service aces and 555 points. She was also named to the First-Team All-Pac-12.

Anae recently returned from the Pac-12 All-Star Team trip to China, and she is excited to take the knowledge she learned from that experience and use it this season.

“We’re coming in for a bang this year,” Anae said. “We’re excited to win more games, and I’m excited for people to watch what this group brings.”

Anae spoke of her experience in China as a fantastic opportunity to learn from the Chinese professionals and develop her knowledge of the game, while expanding her volleyball IQ. The All-Star Team played in a four-team tournament and finished third.

“One of the biggest things I learned was [to] mix up my shots more,” Anae said.

Anae will be a junior this season and is excited about stepping into a leadership role, helping her team continue to get better and reach their goals.

Recently, the team put on an all-skills clinic for young volleyball players, ages 11-17. Eliza Katoa said the opportunity to help coach aspiring volleyball players was a special, unforgettable experience.

“Coaching is fun,” Katoa said. “Being able to interact with actual fans who love the game as well is awesome. They make you feel great, and it reminds me why I love volleyball.”

Katoa, who is also entering her junior season, is looking forward to playing again in the Huntsman Center.

“Playing in the Huntsman is an experience of a lifetime,” Katoa said. “The fans are on top of you, you get pumped up, and I get chills warming up before a game. It’s my sanctuary.”

With last season’s struggles of being a younger team in a tough conference, the team made it a priority to come back better. Katoa thinks the team has built a certain amount of power, and it helps that everyone has been working hard and putting in the maximum amount of effort. She shared how great it has been to see what happens when everyone forgets about themselves, and instead focuses on what they can accomplish together as a team.

“The group of girls this season are so talented,” Katoa said. “We were a young team last year, but we’ve been working hard in the spring and summer to come back. We’ve gone above and beyond.”

The team has its Red vs. White scrimmage on Aug. 20 at 1:00 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The team will then host the Utah Classic on Aug. 26-27, and its first conference game is against Colorado on Sept. 21 in Boulder, Colorado.

c.mcmanamon@dailyutahchronicle.com

@curramac22

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