Bad service: Volleyball looks to improve serve numbers

The U volleyball team (15-6, 7-3 MWC) is humming along nicely, having won four in a row and six out of its last seven. After being stuck in the middle of the conference for more than a month, the Utes have now crept up to a second-place tie with six matches to play in the regular season.

But while the team as a whole is hitting its stride heading into the back stretch of the season, the Utes still acknowledge that there is work to be done.

“We’ve been missing too many serves, and we haven’t been hitting our zones (on serves),” U head coach Beth Launiere said. “All week we’ve put parameters on our serving and forced our serving to get to where it needed to be.”

The additional work on serves comes when most of the other game aspects that were detriments early in the season have been corrected. Problems with blocking and passing have been for the most part remedied, but serving has continued to be a bugaboo for the U.

The team ranks dead last in the MWC in service aces, averaging 1.25 per game. That is a full ace behind conference-leader Texas Christian University, which averages 2.27 per game.

Last weekend, the Utes knocked off UNLV and San Diego State University rather easily, only dropping one game. But the team made matters tougher on itself by committing a startling 22 service errors in the two matches, compared with only nine by their opponents.

“It was really a disaster,” Launiere said. “It improved a lot this week (in practice). It’s another thing that we refined this week that we haven’t had time to tend to. There’s three things: You’ve got to be aggressive, you can’t miss serve, and you have to get the ball to the right people. We’ve done a lot of drills designed to attend to that.”

It’s a refinement that will be counted on when the Utes visit TCU on Saturday. The Horned Frogs (15-9, 3-5 MWC) have had a tough time in their first year of competition in the MWC but are coming off their biggest win of the year after knocking off second-place Colorado State University in five games.

“We’ll have our hands full down there against a feisty TCU team,” Launiere said.Following the one-match road trip, the Utes will return to Crimson Court next weekend for a big match with undefeated BYU on Friday at 7 p.m.

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