No. 14 Ute volleyball routs BYU in three games

After a surprising loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday, the No. 14 Utes promised it was just a minor speed bump.

They were right.

The Utes took out their aggression on BYU, never letting up from the opening serve to the block that ended the game.

Game scores for the three-game sweep were 30-24, 30-20, and 31-29.

“We got caught off guard against Notre Dame, but bounced back perfectly today,” Ute coach Beth Launiere said.

Brigham Young did its share to help Utah early on. Seven of the Utes’ first eight points were off of BYU errors, including four service errors.

“We’ve been working on serving,” BYU coach Karen Lamb said. “But that’s something we absolutely need to change.”

Game one was a back-and-forth affair until late. The Utes held a tenuous 24-23 lead, when Lyndsey Henderson took over, scoring on three kills out of Utah’s six final points to give them a 30-24 win.

Game two started the way game one ended. Henderson got a quick kill, boosting the Utes to an early 10-6 lead. The Cougars would never get closer than four, with Utah cruising to a 30-20 game two victory.

BYU did not quit, and game three was the tightest one of the afternoon. The third act featured 18 ties and eight lead changes, with neither team enjoying any sizeable lead. The game was tied at 27, when BYU’s mistakes caught up with it again.

The Cougars had an errant spike go out of bounds to give the Utes the lead. After a tough point, the Cougars had the last of their 14 service errors to give the Utes the lead for good, and Utah won 31-29.

Possibly the biggest stat of the game was on the defensive side. BYU star Kim Wilson, who had 19 kills in the two schools’ previous meeting, was held to two kills on Saturday.

“We had a blocking plan in place and carried it out perfectly,” Launiere said.

When the Cougar shots weren’t getting blocked, they were being saved on account of Utah holding a 49-33 dig advantage. Connie Dangerfield led all players with 12.

While the defense got the post-game accolades, the Utes had plenty of fireworks on offense as well.

Senior Liana Bortoto had a career-best match with 19 kills. Game-one star Henderson added 15 of her own. The only other Ute in double figures was Shelly Sommerfeldt with 13.

Bortoto attributed her stellar effort to the work of her teammates. “They all support me and I trust every single one of them,” Bortoto said.

The Cougars could not get much offense going, only hitting .217 as a team. Lexi Brown led BYU with 10 kills.

After dispatching the Cougars for the 10th straight time, Utah’s record now stands at 16-3 (8-0 in the MWC) heading into the second half of conference play.

They continue their home stand next Friday when New Mexico comes to Crimson Court at 7 p.m.

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