Senior night at the Huntsman Center for the No. 17 ranked University of Utah Volleyball team (21-8 overall, 12-6 Pac-12) went the way Utah had hoped it would as it beat the Arizona Wildcats in four sets, 3-1.
“I thought we played really well,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “I thought they caused a little bit of problem for us early on, but we figured them out. Once we got some things figured out, we rolled. I thought we played really well other than the first set.”
The Wildcats came ready to play and they set the tone for the first set. They caused fits for the Utes on offense by limiting them to a hitting percentage of .023. The Utes put together a 5-1 run that caused the Wildcats to take a timeout before they went on to win, 25-20.
During the second set, it was senior Tawnee Luafalemana who took things into her own hands to help the Utes get a dominate 25-15 win. Utah had an impressive hitting percentage of .483 all while limiting the Wildcats to a hitting percentage of .100.
Luafalemana finished the night with a hitting percentage of .632, and she had four blocks and three kills in the second set alone. The Utah win on senior night was special for Luafalemana. She recently lost her stepdad, Morris Coleman, in a car accident and this match was one she was playing with him in her heart.
“I know them watching back home was a big deal for me as well,” Luafalemana said. “Just coming from the funeral today in the morning. So just playing for him and my mom was my main goal today. To have back-to-back things, flying from there to here, I wanted to do well for them.”
Utah opened its third set on a 4-0 run before the Wildcats scored two points. The Utes then went on a 9-2 run to take a commanding lead. They were able to close out the third set and get the win with a score of 25-15.
In the fourth set, Arizona struck first, but the Utes were able to bounce back for a 25-15 victory. Berkeley Oblad had a block that set up a 4-0 run for the Utes, and Luafalemana closed the frame with a kill.
After the game, Launiere thanked fans for the continued support that they’ve shown the program as it wrapped up its regular-season action at home.
“I can’t say enough about our fans this year,” Launiere said. “We’ve broken attendance records and they keep showing up and they should for these seniors because this really is a special class, all have started their whole career. It’s always a tough loss with any class. I’m just happy that the fans came out.”
Next up, the Utes will head to California to take on Stanford on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. before closing its regular-season against Colorado two days later.
“We just got to keep going,” Launiere said. “I think everyone is very invested right now, very driven. I think everyone is excited for the third part of the season. You have preseason, you have season and we’re rolling into the third part of the season. We’re getting ready and playing wonderful.”