Utes win all three sets against Aztecs

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

One team down, one to go.

The Utah women’s volleyball team had one its best offensive games of the season as it defeated the San Diego State Aztecs in a 25-13, 25-17 and 25-23 three-set victory.

Working on the little things that would make them better all around paid off for the Utes, as they played well in every area of the game.

“We executed maybe the best we have all season offensively in games one and two,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “We covered well, worked hard defensively and were quick to the ball. We just played hard.”

Despite winning in a three-game sweep, it wasn’t easy for the Utes. After controlling both the first and second sets, the Utes were down 12-18 before rallying back to win the third set.

“We got in a little bit of a rut and let them score five in a row,” Launiere said. “We battled back and stayed confident though.”

Four Utah hitters were above .300 as the team pounded down 45 kills and hit for a .372 hitting percentage.

The Utes were led by Karolina Bartkowiak and Kathryn Haynie who both had 11 kills in the win. Bartkowiak hit a season high .714 hitting percentage. Lori Baird added nine kills and .615 hitting percentage.

“Barto came up big for us in the last set and got 5 or 6 kills right there at the very end and they couldn’t stop her,” said Launiere.

The Utah team had a season high 12 service aces in the match, with Baird dealing a career high of seven of them.

Despite working on the block in practice this week, Utah was only able to stop eight balls, compared to its output average of more than 10. The Utes, however, still managed to force 15 hitting errors and hold the Aztecs to a .184 hitting percentage.

Emillie Toone led the front row defense with four blocks, while Keisha Fisher had 15 digs on the back row.

“Keisha passed really well for us,” Launiere said. “The setters also did a really nice job placing the ball.”

With San Diego State out of the way, the Utes are switching their attention to the UNLV Rebels, their last road game of the season.

“We came in strong and worked hard in practice this week, and now we just have to do our job,” Bartkowiak said.

Utah and UNLV are evenly matched when it comes to kills, assists, service aces per set and hitting percentage, but are not so close in blocking and digs.

Utah gets twice as many blocks per set as UNLV with 3.1 to the Rebels 1.6, while it is UNLV that has the advantage in digging as they get up three more balls per set that the Utes do.

With the Utes being very close statistically with the Rebels, they know that the game in Vegas will be no piece of cake.

“They are a young team that plays very well at home,” Launiere said. “They aren’t going to roll over for us.”

UNLV is led offensively by Jessica Walters who averages 3.23 kills per set, while it is Curtsy Jackson who leads the Rebels with .78 blocks per set. Camille Cunningham leads the team and the conference with 5.07 digs per set.

“They are a very good team defensively, so we are going to have to be really physical and offensive,” Launiere said. “We know we always have to play long rallies against UNLV, so we’ll have to work hard and keep the ball alive.”

Baird is leading the Utes all around with 3.13 kills and 1.46 blocks per set, as Fisher keeps the back row running smoothly with 3.08 digs per set.

Utah will face the Rebels at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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Tyler Cobb

The Utah women?s volleyball team had one its best offensive games of the season as it defeated the San Diego State Aztecs in a 25-13, 25-17 and 25-23 three-set victory.