In her final season as a collegiate athlete, University of Utah outside hitter Adora Anae is on a mission to make her team’s NCAA tournament run as memorable as possible, and so far, she’s helping to do that. Utah defeated Cleveland State on Thursday by a score of 3-0 to advance to the second round. Anae lead the Utes with 11 kills and 13 digs on the night.
“I know what it takes to get to the tournament and what it takes to be in the tournament and the mindset you have to have,” Anae said. “So I think this year we have that mature mindset on and off the court. It felt great to get a sweep tonight [Thursday].”
Utah forced the Vikings to call a timeout after starting the match with a 4-0 lead. The timeout didn’t do much for the Vikings, and Utah piled on point after point. Carly Truman had three quick kills to help give the Utes a 13-4 edge to push them closer to what would be a 25-14 set one win.
On the offensive side of things, Bailey Choy tallied 26 total assists, but she showed moves on the defense as well, adding three kills to her name.
“I was more excited,” Choy said about getting to play in the tournament. “I mean this is the second year that I’ve been to the NCAA’s and so just learning from last year and our preparation was spot on, and I think we were running the offense really well.”
The Utes knew that in the second set the Vikings would make adjustments and they would need to do the same. Cleveland State went up 5-4 early in the match, but Utah regained the lead and held it for most of the remainder of the frame.
“I thought they adjusted well,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “I mean, it’s always about adjustments. For instance, their middle blocker was getting kills on Adora on the tight slide right behind the setter, and she started stopping her in the third set. So it’s all about adjustments and so I thought they did a really nice job. They started hitting higher, they were being blocked a little bit, so they were being smarter with their hits.”
After the Utes went up 15-9, the Vikings were able to fight their way back and take a 20-19 lead, but not for long. A kill from Anae sealed the set two 25-21 Utah victory.
“We were trying to find their weaknesses and capitalize on them,” Anae said. “So for the first set we can kind of see what’s going on and so we kind of analyze that and see what our next two goals are for the second set. Coach Beth said, ‘Keep being aggressive’ and ‘Keep defending them well.’”
Utah’s defense was relentless as it closed out the match. The team was able to limit the Vikings to a -.059 hitting percentage and force 11 errors. The Utes strung together two runs to put them up 11-6. The Vikings were only able to score six more points before the Utes took them down, 25-12.
With the victory the Utes advance to the 2nd round of the tournament where they will face No. 16 Purdue on Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.