Teamwork and defense key to Utes’ success

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

The U volleyball team will look to extend its winning streak to five today when it travels to Ogden to play the Weber State Wildcats.

Utah comes into the game after sweeping all three opponents in last weekend’s home-opening tournament. Teamwork and defense were key to the Utes’ success in last weekend’s Utah Classic and will surely be the focus of tonight’s game for the Utes.

“We’ve been working on communication a lot in practice, and it’s definitely making a difference. We’re connecting as a team,” middle blocker Emillie Toone said.

It appears so.

The Utes held opponents to a mere .049 hitting last weekend and out-blocked their opponents 39.5-19 in the three matches.

Toone is a big reason the Utes were able to dominate, tallying 25 blocks in the tournament. It’s no surprise to the casual observer that Toone’s emotional play inspires the team.

“Emillie plays with a lot of energy. If she misses a block, you know she’ll do her best to get the next one. She’s the driving horse behind this team,” junior libero Connie Dangerfield said.

Dangerfield can’t put all of the credit on Toone, though, as she is equally responsible for the Utes’ success thus far. The 2004 MWC Libero of the Year is off to a solid start this season, averaging 4.12 digs per game.

“Connie is coming along well. She played with reckless abandon against Missouri State, and we really need that from her,” U head coach Beth Launiere said.

The Utes will take all of their weapons into Ogden tonight at 7 p.m. when they face the Wildcats.

Weber State comes into the contest carrying a 4-9 record, as well as a four-match losing streak.

Kolbie Murphy and Leah Burmeister will try to penetrate the tough Ute defense from the outside position. Both are coming off of 17-kill performances in a loss to the Mastadons of IPFW.

Also threatening for the Wildcats will be Chelsea Bair, who added 16 kills last week, along with 12 digs.

Britney Baissailon posted 10 block assists in Weber State’s last match to lead the defense. Leading the Wildcats from the back row tonight will be Kristi Lindley, who recorded a personal-best 22 digs in her last outing.

Utah will, once again, face a familiar in-state foe, having played with most of the Wildcat players in various summer leagues.

“Any time you have an in-state match on the road, you have to be prepared for it,” Launiere said. “We’re going to have a hard practice today (Monday) to work on things we noticed from last weekend and then go after Weber State.”

The Utes carry a 7-2 record into the contest and are the only nationally ranked opponent Weber State will face all year.

Mike Terry

Utah junior Kate Robison bumps the ball during the 3-0 win against Missouri State last Saturday at Crimson Court.