Making gains (volleyball)

By and

A successful offseason tournament has concluded a successful spring for Utah volleyball. Competing in Provo over the weekend, the Utes were one of eight teams involved in the tourney, an event used to implement new schemes and work on technique in a competitive setting.

Utah played 10 games in the tournament, two each against five different teams. The Utes finished the event tied with Colorado State for first place at 8-2, with their only losses coming to UNLV and BYU.

With the spring season now in the books, the team can look back on what it accomplished in the extra practice time.

“We got better at a lot of things,” Ute head coach Beth Launiere said. “The number one thing is that we got stronger. Our freshmen this year that played in the fall needed to get a lot stronger and more physical, and they did that. We got better at all the fundamentals we needed to.”

While the Utes are coming off a season that saw them win the MWC Tournament and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Launiere isn’t content to sit back and just let the predominantly young team that excelled last season do the same thing in 2006. The plan she was most intent on in the spring was diversifying the U’s attack, something that could be done with a more mature squad.

“We didn’t use all our sets in the fall,” Launiere said. “We held back and didn’t do everything this fall because of how young we were. Now we’ve pretty much got our whole system implemented.”

Another big focal point in spring ball was the rehabilitation of Connie Dangerfield. The 2004 MWC Libero of the Year missed all of 2005 with a rotator cuff injury and finally returned to competitive play this spring.

“She needed the time to play live volleyball,” Launiere said. “She needed the confidence that she’s 100 percent ready to go. She has that now.”

Dangerfield is among the most important spring stories, but Launiere pointed out that every single Ute improved, leading to high expectations for fall.

“Everybody made progress. That’s the whole idea of spring. Everybody needs to get their fundamentals better,” Launiere said. “Our players worked really hard this offseason. I was really impressed with what they did.”

Chronicle File Photo

Soon-to-be sophomore Shannon King goes up for a block during a meeting with Weber State early last season. Krug is among those singled out by her coach as having an impressive spring showing.