Big crushing setback

It was the third time they met this season, but all of the charm was on Colorado State’s side.

The Rams trampled the Utes Saturday night in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Game scores were 30-18, 30-16, and 30-18.

“We aren’t playing our best right now and we came up against a team that is playing very well,” Ute coach Beth Launiere said.

Utah was coming off of a thrilling five-game semi-final victory versus UNLV, and could not muster the same energy against the high-powered Rams.

The Utes were stymied on both offense and defense, as they couldn’t get anything going during the match.

Utah was held to a .099 hitting percentage, committing 24 hitting errors, along with eight service errors. CSU hit .389 on the match, with six service aces aiding their cause.

Blocking is where Utah usually wins or loses the match, and Saturday was no different. Colorado State out-blocked the U 9-1. CSU also held a 46-34 dig advantage.

“It wasn’t that we were unprepared,” Launiere said. “CSU just played very well.”

Danielle Leichliter led the Utes with 11 kills. Utah’s usual weapons were held in check. Shelly Sommerfeldt, Kelsie Kartchner and Lyndsey Henderson combined for only 15 kills, all hitting .056 or lower.

Tess Rogers led the balanced Ram attack, connecting on 14 kills. Melissa Courtney added five kills and 37 assists on a .714 hitting night.

The Rams punctuated the match by hitting .417 in the final game to quell any hope of a Ute comeback.

The Utes beat the Rams earlier in the season at Fort Collins, but that seems like a distant memory now. CSU has swept Utah twice in the last week, the former coming in Salt Lake City last Saturday.

Kartchner and Sommerfeldt were both named to the all-tournament team, adding the accolade to their already announced all-conference honors.

The Utes will now return home for two non-conference matches before the NCAA tournament. No. 3 Hawaii comes to Crimson Court on Nov. 24, followed by Eastern Washington Nov 27. Both matches are slated for 7 p.m.

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