The University of Utah volleyball team is heading to Montana this weekend to play in the Montana Invitational for their second preseason tournament. Throughout these last two preseason tournaments, the Utes are looking to focus on themselves as a team.
“These first few games are when we’re figuring out who we are as a team…and [to] show that when a team pushes us we can respond,” said outside hitter Dani Drews.
During practices on Monday and Tuesday, the team’s center of attention was to learn from last weekend’s tournament and to work on the team rather than to focusing on their opponents.
“At this point, it’s still so much about us early in the season,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “We have to look at our opponent, but we also have to keep getting better ourselves.”
The Utes open the tournament on Friday, August 31st, with a game against Montana at 10 a.m. They’ll follow up with a game against Gonzaga later in the day. Utah will then wrap up the weekend on Saturday playing against Iowa State at 11 a.m.
Montana, the host of the tournament, is coming in with an 0-3 record. They began the season with a loss to UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton and Akron last weekend at the Fullerton/UC Riverside Classic.
Gonzaga is coming into the tournament with a losing record from their games last weekend, losing both of their first two matches to No. 11 UCLA.
Iowa State, Utah’s last opponent of the weekend, is coming into the weekend with a 2-1 record. The team won their first two matches against Ole Miss and Virginia, but had a tight loss against Oregon State on the final day at the Iowa State Challenge.
These preseason tournaments are long and may be exhausting for all of the teams involved. Having matches one after the other, the Utes are pushing through with their focus, set on bettering and getting to know their team. Even though the Utes are emphasizing the importance of bettering themselves throughout these tournaments, they also have high expectations and goals for themselves for this upcoming weekend.
“Every weekend we’re going after three wins,” Launiere said. “You get three preseason tournaments. I think every weekend you go in with just trying to get three wins one at a time. You have to kind of survive because you’re playing two matches in one day.”
Last weekend, Dani Drews was focusing on her passing and as a result was able to finish the weekend off strong with two double-doubles. This weekend she wants to help out her team as much as she can to get a win.
“My personal goals for this weekend are to do what the team needs me to do and just go out and get a win,” Drews said.
Matches this weekend will be live streamed and live stats will be provided as well. Links can be found at www.UtahUtes.com.