Utes bounce back to beat Wildcats

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

OGDEN8212;The curse has been broken.

So far this season, the Utah volleyball team has lost every game in which it lost the first set, something that changed last night as it beat Weber State in four sets.

“Weber always plays tough and we had to execute,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “We worked hard all night and good things happened.”

After weeks of focusing on getting a better block, the hard work finally paid off.

Utah sent 10 balls back to the Wildcats’ side of the net in the victory.

“The block was awesome,” middle blocker Emillie Toone said. “It’s the 6-2, it makes us huge.”

Despite the 6-2 offensive rotation, which allows the Utes to insert taller players on the front line more often, the Utes lacked offense and dropped the first set 25-22. A multitude of passing errors made the setter’s job difficult and kept Utah’s hitting percentage at a measly .026.

Lori Baird was the only Utah hitter with a positive hitting percentage, as she led the Utes with three kills in the first set.

“We didn’t come out aggressive enough,” Baird said. “We weren’t focused on the first ball kills like we should’ve been.”

Behind the big block, Utah came roaring back in the second set and had a strong showing in the digging department, getting up 59 balls and holding Weber State to a .149 hitting percentage.

The back row defense was led by libero Keisha Fisher with 14 digs. Teammate Kathryn Haynie was also big on the back row as she too dug 14 balls for the Utes.

“The block was good tonight,” Fisher said. “It made our jobs on the back row easier.”

After a no-show in the first set, Utah’s powerful offense was back and swinging for the remainder of the match, as the Utes went on to win 25-21, 25-17, and 25-19.

“We didn’t come out as ready as we should’ve been,” Toone said. “But after the first set we improved on our approach and transition and got the first ball kills we needed”

Utah pounded down 41 kills from the second set on and had three hitters, Lori Baird, Emillie Toone and Cinthia Silva in double digits. Karolina Bartkowiak added nine kills in the win.

Launiere said lineup changes are to blame for Utah’s shaky start on offense.

“With the new lineup, players aren’t used to playing with someone different beside them,” Launiere said. “And that shakes us up a bit.”

Senior middle blockers Toone and Baird led the Utes offense with 13 and 11 kills respectively. Both earned hitting percentages above .500.

With two more road games this week, the Utes are happy to have put Weber State behind them.

“We learned a lot. We know we’ve got to come out ready and finish strong,” Toone said. “We have to play consistently.”

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Tyler Cobb

Keisha Fisher digs after a server from Air Force during last weeks game. Keisha lead defensively Tuesday night against Weber State with 14 digs.