Before closing its regular-season on the road, the No. 17 ranked University of Utah volleyball team (19-8 overall, 10-6 Pac-12) will play two more home matches. The Utes will welcome in Arizona State on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. and Arizona the following night at the same time.
“This weekend we have both Arizona’s coming into town, both very good teams,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “I know their records don’t necessarily show what I think of how quality players and coaches they are and those programs. … At this time of year everybody’s got to be ready and everyone’s battling for those wins. We’ve had a good week of practice so far, and we’ll be ready to go.”
The Sun Devils are winless in Pac-12 play. The last time the two teams met up this season was in October, when they fell in four sets to the Utes. The Wildcats on the other hand, will have played Colorado the day before arriving at the Huntsman Center. Utah also beat Arizona during the season in four sets on the road.
With tournament action on the horizon, Utah knows how important it is to get these wins in the final weeks of conference play. Over the past few weeks the program has brought in guest speakers to encourage and motivate the team to stay focused on what is right in front of it.
“We’ve been talking as a team in our goals to make this last part of the season the best part of the season,” Launiere said. “Sometimes early on everybody’s excited in the season and then you hit what I call the doldrums of October, and you’re battling night in and night out. We’ve been talking a lot about it’s the point in the season that’s fun, what you’ve played for and what you’ve worked for. We’re really looking forward to this final stretch.”
Saturday night will also be senior night for the Utes who will honor all three seniors, Adora Anae, Carly Trueman and Tawnee Luafalemana. Anae has written her name in Utah record books by becoming the schools all time leader in kills. Trueman became a part of the 1,000-kill club this past week against UCLA and Luafalemana, who won two national championships at the junior college level, has made an impact on the team with her must win mentality.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Anae said. “But I’m just going to be in the moment the whole time. I know my family is going to be behind me on the sidelines, cheering me on. It’s going to be a good experience.”