The others: Three teams to visit Ute-hosted NCAA Volleyball tournament this weekend

Crimson Court will host the NCAA Volleyball Tournament this weekend for the first time since 2001, and the U volleyball team will welcome Loyola-Marymount, Arizona and Utah State to its home court.

Before the Utes take on Loyola on Friday night at 8 p.m., in-state rival Utah State is set for a showdown with heavily favored Arizona, the No. 4 seed in the entire tournament.

The second round will take place Saturday evening.

While the Utes know plenty about the Aggies, the same can’t be said of the Lions and Wildcats.

U head coach Beth Launiere and her surging Utes will get to work studying up on their upcoming opponents.


Lions (19-10, 7-7 WCC)

The Utes’ first-round opponent was one of five teams from the West Coast Conference to earn entrance into this year’s tourney.

The Lions finished fifth place in the conference’s regular-season race with a 7-7 WCC record.

Pacing the Lions is sophomore Heather Hughes, an all-conference selection this year who led the team with 3.31 kills per game.

Joining Hughes on the all-West Coast roster is a pair of freshmen, Emily Day and Dina Debernardi.

As a team, the Lions are the top-digging team in the conference (18.66 per game), averaging nearly three digs per game more than the second-best squad in the category.

Inconsistency has hurt Loyola this season, as the team won 11 of its first 12 matches, including a six-match winning streak that culminated in a 3-2 victory over nationally ranked Hawaii.

However, the Lions followed that up with four losses in a row en route to the fifth-place finish.

Arizona Wildcats

(22-5, 14-4 Pac-10)

The Wildcats, led by all-Pac-10 outside hitter Kim Glass, are the No. 6 team in the nation and the top seed in their bracket but will nonetheless open the NCAAs on the road.

Arizona closed out its season with a pair of road wins over Oregon and Oregon State, in which Glass totaled 43 kills over the two matches and notched her 18th double-double of the season.

The Wildcats tied for second place in the brutally competitive Pac-10 conference, finishing with a 14-4 in-conference record, three matches behind Pac-10 champ Washington.

The Wildcats dropped both of their matches to the Huskies but sailed through the rest of the conference season with brief hiccups against USC and California. Glass and senior outside hitter Jennifer Abernathy were named to the all-conference team this week. Glass led the Pac-10 with 5.35 kills per game; Abernathy finished eighth.

Utah State Aggies

(21-12, 11-5 WAC)

Utah State is the one team in this weekend’s opponents that the Utes know a little bit about, as the two teams face each other once every season. The Utes and Aggies met in early September in Logan, and USU gave the U a run for its money.

The Utes won the first two matches before the Aggies stormed back, taking games three and four before Utah finally prevailed in the fifth.

For the season, the Aggies tied for second place in the Western Athletic Conference, going 11-5 in conference play, well behind conference leader Hawaii, which was undefeated against WAC opponents at 16-0. Leading the Aggies in their third-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament are seniors Zuzana Cernianska (4.57 kills, 2.48 digs) and Erin Graybill (2.61 kills, a team-best 1.32 blocks).

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