Ute win streak hits eight

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The Utah women’s volleyball team is on a roll.

The Utes stormed in and out of Colorado Springs, Colo., as they beat the Air Force Falcons on Saturday for their eighth straight win.

Five of Utah’s past eight wins have been sweeps. The victory against the Falcons was no different as the Utes won easily 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21.

“I thought we executed pretty well,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “Everyone played well and we had a nice game.”

Utah’s defense, which has been dominant during the win streak, took a back seat to the powerful offense.

Five Utah hitters were above the .300 mark as the team hit for a .306 hitting percentage, while committing only 10 errors in the three-set match.

“We got better at what we’ve been working on which is the outside hitters,” Launiere said. “They did well and the setters did a nice job setting there.”

Utah’s offense was led by senior Kathryn Haynie with 10 kills and a .333 hitting percentage.

“Kat played well all-around, she did well in every part of the game,” Launiere said.

Lori Baird had eight kills, while Emillie Toone and Karolina Bartkowiak added six apiece.

The Utes continued to look strong on defense as well. They blocked 12 balls and dug another 44 as they held Air Force to a .086 hitting percentage.

Baird had six blocks to lead the defense, with Toone and Haynie both getting four blocks. Keisha Fisher led the back row with 11 digs.

The Utes will face their last non-conference foe of the regular season tonight as they take on the No. 7 Oregon Ducks.

Utah is 0-3 against ranked opponents this season as they lost to then-No. 4 Texas, No. 15 Colorado State and No. 18 Purdue.

“It’s very motivating for us, and the team is excited to play this match,” Launiere said.

If statistics are any indicator of the potential outcome of the game, the Utes have a great shot to win in Eugene, Ore., as they lead the Ducks in every major category.

Utah outhits Oregon with 13 kills per set to their 10-9. The Utes also average two more digs and one block more per set than the Ducks.

“They are really strong on the left side and we’ve been good at controlling the outside hitters with our block,” Launiere said.

The only place where Oregon has the upper hand is hitting percentage. The Ducks commit fewer hitting errors than the Utes with a .292 percentage to Utah’s .237.

Despite being ahead of Oregon statistically, Utah will face the challenge of playing at McArthur Court where the Ducks have yet to lose this season.

“It’s going to be a challenge playing on their court, but this is a great opportunity for our team,” Launiere said.

The Oregon attack is led by outside hitter8212;Gorana Maricic who slams down an impressive 4.25 kills per set8212;one more than any Utah hitter.

Middle blocker Neticia Enesi leads the Ducks’ frontline defense with 1.23 blocks per set, while libero Katie Swoboda runs the back row digging five balls per set.

Baird is at the head of both the Utah offense and defense with three kills and 1.55 blocks per set, while Fisher is the focus of the back row digging up three balls per set.

While the Utes would love to get a win against a Top 10 team and continue their winning streak, their main focus is conference play.

“This is a perfect situation for us to play a Top 10 team and see how we match up,” Launiere said. “If we get the win. great, but our focus is conference.”

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