Utes motivated for Falcons

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The Utah women’s volleyball team learned the hard way what happens when you don’t play as a team in its 3-0 loss to Wyoming last weekend.

“We didn’t play as a team,” setter Stephanie Shardlow said. “We played like six individuals.”

The loss gave the team a chance to step back, put its season into perspective and figure out what went wrong.

“It was our first bad loss of the season and it exposed some of our weaknesses,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “Losses like this can be a good thing as long as you learn from them.”

While Launiere would’ve liked her team to pick up a win on the road, she hopes her team will be better for the rough road trip.

“We have a long season ahead of us and I don’t think anyone in the conference will be undefeated,” Launiere said. “The MWC is tough, and you have to come ready to play, hopefully they learned that lesson.”

After a two-hour team meeting and a Monday off, the Utes are refocused and ready to get back down to business.

“We learned how important it is to support each other and play as a team,” outside hitter Kathryn Haynie said. “That’s the difference between winning and losing, who plays better as a team.”

In addition to focusing on getting a better team chemistry flowing, Utah is also working on implementing some changes to the lineup.

Some include returning to the 6-2 offensive formation that was run last year. The importance of putting up a better block is the driving force behind the switch.

“We’re not blocking enough,” Launiere said. “We’ve always been a great blocking team and the 6-2 should help us get back to that.”

The coaching staff is also considering moving Lori Baird back to the middle-blocker position, where she has played most of her career.

Moving Baird would allow Karolina Bartkowiak and Chelsey Sandberg to take over the right side of the court and help put up a stronger block.

“We are making minor changes,” Launiere said. “But we know that we have to get the lineup set here in the next couple weeks.”

Utah, who has spent the entire week perfecting its new offense, will put it into action tonight as the Utes take on the Air Force Falcons.

Air Force, who is 4-9 this season and 0-2 in MWC play, trails the Utes in every facet of the game.

The Falcons have a .138 hitting percentage compared to the Utes’ .213 and is only putting up 1.2 blocks per game to Utah’s 2.6. Air Force also falls behind Utah in assists, service aces and digs.

“We shouldn’t have any problem preparing for Air Force,” Launiere said. “The team is very motivated and we’ll be ready to play.”

After starting out the conference season 0-2, with back- to-back losses to then No. 15 Colorado State and Wyoming, the Utes are looking to break their three-game losing streak and pick up a win in the MWC as they return to Crimson Court.

The team members agreed that in order to win, they have to focus on what is happening on their side of the net.

“We have to run our offense,” Shardlow said. “We have to play Utah volleyball.”

[email protected]

Tyler Cobb

Karolina Bartkowiak has worked with the rest of the offence to improve after a 3-0 loss in Wyoming last week.