To begin its final regular-season weekend at home, the No. 17 ranked University of Utah volleyball team (21-8 overall, 12-6 Pac-12) took care of business, just how it had hoped to. The team swept the Arizona State Sun Devils that are winless in Pac-12 play this year, 3-0.
“I thought we came in pretty prepared, and I thought for the most part we played well,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “I was bummed that we kind of let up in the beginning of set two because I just don’t think we can let up at any point at this part in the season.”
The first set of the night was all Utah from the start as Adora Anae had back-to-back kills. The Utes led 15-10 heading into the first media timeout. Arizona State used that break to regroup, and it got within one point of the Utes. However, Utah went on a 5-1 run before a kill from Dani Barton gave the Utes a 1-0 lead in the series.
Set two gave the Utes some trouble after Arizona State opened up the set on a 7-2 run, but the Utes were finally able to counter and go on an 8-0 run of their own. Tawnee Luafalemana had two big blocks for the Utes, and Kenzie Koerber finished the first set with five kills.
“She just has a lot of shots,” Launiere said about Koerber. “She’s playing with a lot of confidence, and she’s really becoming a key player for us.”
After trailing at the beginning of set two, Utah gained the lead and it never looked back. The team went on to win the frame, 25-19. The Utes were able to limit the Sun Devils to a hitting percentage of .088.
“It took awhile to get started a little bit, but today [Friday], I thought we went out and we [were] just dominating,” Luafalemana said. “It was really good.”
Arizona State started off strong in the third set, but Utah was able to rally together to take an 8-3 lead. The Utes won the set 25-15, scoring nine of the final 12 points to earn the victory.
Luafalemana knows what her team is capable of accomplishing, and she believes if it focuses on one key aspect each match, she knows her team can be hard to beat.
The Utes finished the night with nine blocks, a .355 hitting percentage and they were able to limit the Sun Devils to three blocks and a hitting percentage of .194.
Koerber finished with 10 kills, three aces and three blocks. Anae lead the way with 13 kills. Berkeley Oblad chipped in six blocks, and Bailey Choy became the fourth Utah player since 2004 to have a season with over 1,000 total assists. She finished with 37 on the night.
The Utes will close out the weekend on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. against the Arizona Wildcats. The Utes will honor the three seniors on the team for senior day prior to the start of the match.