Volleyball Takes on Top-25 Utah State

Saying the Utah State Aggies would be the toughest in-state competition the University of Utah volleyball team will have would once have been instantly qualified as blatantly ignorant.

Things might be different, now.

Although BYU All-American senior Nina Puikkonen was playing injured at the time, the Aggies completely demolished BYU last week, breaking the 20-match home winning streak of the Cougars with a 3-0 sweep. The Aggies’ record now stands at 11-4, and they have broken into the nation’s top 25.

On the other hand, the Utes defeated BYU in five grueling games last Friday night, and will have to get right back on Crimson Court to square off against the red-hot Aggies.

Last year, Utah State defeated the Utes at Logan in four games. The last time the Aggies came to Crimson Court?where the U is undefeated thus far this year?was in 1999, and the Utes won that contest in five games.

The X-factor for the Utes will be to forget that they beat BYU and start anew. Looking over Utah State may be a large problem for Utah.

?I told them that we have to forget the [BYU] win, because it was so emotional, and concentrate on Utah State,? said U coach Beth Launiere.

Although this is a non conference matchup, the Utes still realize how significant the contest is.

?This match is really important because of our national goals,? Launiere said. The Utes are ranked No. 15 in the nation.

Utah State plays tough at the net, with Shauni Fluglicker, Michelle Matheson, Lisa Borom and Erin Cartwright playing up front. All four players recorded 8 or more kills against BYU and succeeded in stopping the Cougars’ Sunny Mahe from dominating them.

?They play a similar style to BYU, and they also run the slide a lot,? Launiere said.

Meanwhile, Kim Turner has completely solidified the middle for the Utes, and with Sylva Strzinkov and McKelle Stilson, the Utes should have the edge up front.

Utah will need to rely on its setting because of the defensive presence of Matheson and Fluglicker, as both of them have received Big West Conference Player of the Week honors.

The Utes have an advantage at the physical end with great all-around play.

However, if they fall into a mental trap?as BYU did?at home, then the Utes could be looking at their first home loss of the season.

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