Utes have record weekend, pick up two wins

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

The No. 16 U volleyball team (15-2, 7-0 MWC) picked up a pair of wins last weekend, sweeping both New Mexico and TCU on its way to a record-breaking 13th-consecutive win.

Utah’s streak started in Southern California against Fresno State Sept. 3 and remains active more than a month later after two impressive 3-0 victories at home on Crimson Court.

The streak was tied on Friday night when the Utes utilized an assorted offensive attack to blow by New Mexico (6-12, 2-5 MWC).

The Utes opened game one with sloppy play, giving the Lobos a 4-3 lead early. It didn’t take them too long to find their heads, though, and with multiple kills from middle-blocker Lori Baird, they scored the next seven points to bring the score to 10-4. Strong serving kept the Lobos on their heels, and the Utes expanded the lead to 18-7.

The Lobos didn’t give up there, however, as they went on a 6-1 run to close the gap to 19-13. But the Utes weren’t going to be outdone on their home court, closing the game in convincing fashion by scoring 11 of the last 13 points, ultimately winning 30-15.

Utah kept up its dominating play in the second game, taking an early 5-1 lead with a trio of vicious kills from outside-hitter Whitney Webb. Airial Salvo furthered that lead with strong serving (two aces) and the Utes started to pull away, 12-2.

Emillie Toone, the No. 1 blocker in the nation, widened the margin to 12 with a block of her own later in the game, and the Utes took a 20-8 lead.

From there, the Utes cruised to an easy victory behind strong outside play and stingy defense, winning 30-13.

The third game proved to be the biggest challenge of the evening for the Utes, with New Mexico jumping out to a 3-0 lead early. The Lobos expanded that lead with the aid of multiple Ute hitting errors and found themselves with a 16-10 lead later in the contest.

The Utes found their game later in the contest, however, combing three Webb kills with an absolutely decimating Salvo attack to tie the game at 20.

From then on, Salvo took over. The super sophomore from Viewmont High strung together a slew of kills to lead the Utes to a 30-27 victory.

Salvo and Lovell led the Ute offense in the match with 11 kills apiece, while Webb tallied 10. On defense, Salvo recorded 15 digs to lead the Utes to victory.

“There was a little drop off in game three, but we responded well and maintained our composure,” U head coach Beth Launiere said. “I thought there was a lot of value in game three.”

On Saturday, the Utes surpassed the consecutive win mark with a sweep over TCU. The Horned Frogs (14-6, 3-4 MWC) came into the match after losing an exhilarating 3-2 match to BYU on Friday.

Game one opened up with more unforced errors, and the Utes found themselves down 9-7 early. Utah worked its way back into the game and took a six-point lead when Kate Robison asserted herself with a pair of aces (21-15).

Utah maintained that lead for the majority of the game until the Horned Frogs put together a 4-0 run to close the gap to two at 29-27. The Utes proved to be too much for their conference foe, though, when Lovell hammered down a kill to end the game.

Lovell continued her superb play in game two when she slammed down a pair of blistering kills to give the Utes a 7-4 lead. Salvo later pitched two kills of her own, giving the Utes a 14-8 lead. The Horned Frogs were unable to recover after that, giving the U point after point before finishing the game on a punishing Salvo kill, 30-17.

Utah utilized intimidating defense at the net to stifle its opposition at the start of the third game and jump out to a 5-0 lead. The Utes were able to maintain that lead midway through the period with numerous blocks (14-9) and then put the Horned Frogs away with their high-powered offense, winning 30-14.

Salvo and Lovell led the Ute offense once again, throwing in 10 kills each in the win. Connie Dangerfield led the Utah defense from the back row, digging 11 balls while Baird led the Utes at the net with six blocks.

“That’s a very good team. They play with a lot of intensity, but as the match went on, I felt like we started taking things away from them,” Launiere said. “We figured out what they were doing and finally started blocking the ball in game three, and that made a big difference.”

Freshman Sydney Anderson guided the Utes to victory from her setter position with 24 assists. She also picked up 10 digs and five kills while hitting .833.

“We weren’t really in the flow of things in the first game. After that, we knew we had to step up our game, and I think we did that,” Anderson said.

The Utes will try to keep their streak alive this Tuesday when they take on UVSC at Crimson Court.