No. 16 Utah volleyball — its highest ranking since 2008 — swept the Oregon schools over the weekend, improving to 19-8 overall and a 10-6 record in Pac-12 play.
The Utes started out the weekend in Eugene, Ore., where they upset the No. 16 Oregon Ducks, 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 26-24, 25-15).
“We played very well against Oregon, we served extremely tough, we were mentally tough,” Utah volleyball head coach Beth Launiere said. “We played great defense. Just a lot of positives.”
Adora Anae and Carly Trueman led Utah with 15 and 11 kills, respectively, while Berkeley Oblad chipped in two aces and six blocks. Jessie Openshaw topped the Utes in passing, with 24 assists.
“I think the biggest moment for us was to be able to run cross plays,” Anae said. “We sided out quickly by running cross plays and taking that risk.”
The Utes won the first set despite hitting just .091. After going up 23-17 in the opening set, Utah withstood a 5-1 Duck run to shave the score to 24-22 in favor of the Utes. A kill by Emma Kirst, with an assist from Jessie Openshaw, sealed the first set for Utah.
In the second set, the Utes’ hitting percentage was even worse, ending with Utah hitting .051. Despite the poor hitting in the set, Utah took advantage of Oregon’s eight errors in the second frame. After a Trueman kill brought the Utes within one, 21-22, Oregon head coach Jim Moore called timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Ducks scored three straight to take the second set.
From the third set on, it was all Utah. In the third set, tied at 24, kills from Anae and Openshaw — with each assisting the other — gave the Utes the third set, 26-24. Utah dominated the fourth and final set, scoring six straight points to go up 21-12. The Utes finished off the match with a kill by Trueman, winning the fourth set 25-15.
After the slow start hitting, Utah finished strong, hitting .462 in the third set and .423 in the fourth.
Utah continued the road trip the next day in Corvallis, Ore., where it swept the Beavers, 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-22).
“We weren’t as sharp, but we still won in three,” Launiere said. “We got done what we went there to accomplish. It was a very successful trip.”
Anae led the team in kills, with 16, Bailey Choy contributed three aces and 22 assists, and Tawnee Luafalemana had four blocks to lead the Utes to victory.
“We started passing well after the first set, getting more in system and running our middles,” Anae said.
In a back and forth opening set, Utah had a 7-1 run at the beginning of the set made the difference, as the Utes won a hard-fought first set 25-22.
With the second set tied at 23, Oblad and Trueman were subbed in, and both had an impact on the final two points. Oblad had a kill to give Utah a 24-23 lead, then both Oblad and Trueman combined on a block that led to an Oregon State error, giving the Utes the set.
Utah won the third and final set due to some stellar play by Anae and Trueman. Thanks to three kills by Anae and two by Trueman, the Utes claimed five of the last seven points to wrap up the match.