Webb catches opponents off-guard

By By Cody Brunner and By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Clutch. The word defines greatness and is often used to describe an athlete who performs extremely well in pressure situations. That usually translates into a game-winning shot or a last-second touchdown pass, but in the case of U outside-hitter Whitney Webb, it means a game-saving block or kill.

“She’s been a real go-to player for us offensively,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “We have a lot of confidence in Whitney, and she has been getting a lot of timely kills for us. When we absolutely had to have a kill, she’s the one that’s been getting it done for us.”

Junior libero Connie Dangerfield echoes Launiere’s statements. “She just brings such a competitive attitude to our team,” she said.

“You know if she’s on the front row, she’ll get a kill; and if she’s on the back row, she’ll get a dig. You can always count on her when it matters.”

Webb has not only been getting it done in pressure situations-the junior ranks third on the team in kills (2.84 per game) and blocks (1.39 per game) and ranks second on the team in points (3.66 per game). Her block-per-game average has also earned her conference recognition-she ranks fourth in the Mountain West.

Webb is widely known as the team’s defensive stalwart, often assigned to the opposing team’s best hitter, and has done an exceptional job thus far this season.

“She prides herself in holding the other team’s top outside-hitter to a low percentage. We match her up against their best hitter and she takes pride in that. She always does a good job on them,” Launiere said.

Webb’s suffocating defense, both at the net and on the back row, is a major reason the Utes rank first in the conference in opponent hitting percentage, holding teams to a meager .095.

“She’s an all-around player,” Launiere said. “Whitney led us in digs against Wyoming, and she’s one of our best back-row players as well.”

Webb was a significant reason the Utes were able to rally back from a 2-0 deficit last weekend to score their 15th consecutive win. The junior scored 16 kills to go along with a career-high 26 digs, leading the U to a come-from-behind victory over conference foe Wyoming in Laramie. Webb also recorded an astounding nine blocks in the match, which left her just one block away from the coveted triple-double.

Her efforts in the match, combined with a solid performance against UVSC earlier in the week, earned the junior her first Mountain West Conference Player of the Week award.

“It’s definitely a nice honor to have that, but it’s never about one person; it’s always about the team, and we needed everyone on the team to come back and beat Wyoming,” Webb said.

The junior outside-hitter has been getting it done on offense and defense the entire year, so it is no surprise to hear her teammates sing her praises.

“I love being on her team, but I know that opposing teams hate seeing her come up to the net,” Dangerfield said. “Seeing someone have that kind of fire and competitiveness on the court is really inspiring to the rest of the team.”

Launiere agrees with Dangerfield and even takes it a little further.

“The thing about Whitney is that she has an edge to her,” Launiere said. “She’s very competitive, and she’s not afraid of a battle. She doesn’t back down to anybody, and she brings that to our team. She’s a very competitive player, and that shows through in a lot of tight situations.”