Volleyball tames Wildcats at home

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The U women’s volleyball team finally got a chance to do something it hasn’t done since last season: dominate an opponent.

Utah (4-7, 1-2) sent Weber State (5-7) home with a loss after a quick, three-game match Tuesday.

Having been on the losing end of the only other three-game match the Utes have contested all year, the victory was a step in the right direction.

“It’s nice to win in three,” said senior Whitney Webb, who was one of three Utes to finish the match with 14 kills.

Junior Kathryn Haynie and senior Kate Robison also chipped in 14 kills apiece. Haynie also added seven digs and four serving aces. Connie Dangerfield added 20 digs.

The Utes struggled a bit early in all three games, but after the 15-point mark they crept away from the Wildcats, winning 30-20, 30-21 and 30-25.

“That’s as well as our offense has been working,” Utah coach Beth Launiere said. “We had some offensive goals and we reached them.”

The Utes beat a Weber State team that, a week ago, forced then-No. 17 BYU into a decisive game five. Weber State nearly pulled off the upset, but BYU pulled away and prevented the Wildcats a rare opportunity to beat a big-time school.

Knowing about BYU’s close call, the Utes came into the match prepared for a fight, but weren’t too disappointed when they didn’t get one.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the Utes throughout the entire match. Utah had to recover from deficits in all three games.

Comebacks have been the Utes’ specialty in the past few matches. In Utah’s upset over Colorado State on Friday, the Utes trailed by four to six points in every game but eventually finished the Rams off in four games.

It’s not a pattern Launiere would like to see the Utes fall into.

“Executing from the start” is the biggest improvement Launiere said she would like to see from her team.

The games might have started off shaky, but Launiere was pleased that they ended solidly.

Weber State didn’t play as well as it would have liked, but Weber State coach Al Givens gave credit where it was due.

“We didn’t feel like it was our best effort, but Utah had a lot to do with that,” Givens said.

The Utes haven’t come out on top in many matches this year, partly because of their brutal schedule. Givens used the word “hellacious” to describe it.

Whatever word you choose, the Utes might have been in over their heads early in the season, but got through the early matches against top-10 teams such as UCLA, USC and Florida “with minimum damage to our psyche,” Launiere said.

“Those games helped us at the beginning,” Webb said. “It kind of taught us how to fight.”

Another difficult match is on the horizon. After facing two Mountain West Conference foes — Air Force and Wyoming — on the road next week, the Utes will return home for a non-conference match against No. 25 New Mexico State.

The Utes are 2-3 against ranked teams this season.

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Cameron Strickland

Kathryn Haynie gets one of her 14 kills against the Wild Cats Tuesday night as the Utes beat the Wildcats 3-0 at Crimson Court.