Utes defeat BYU, claim duel trophy in 5-set contest

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

After getting swept on its own court, BYU came to Crimson Court looking for revenge, but the Utes had other plans for the Cougars.

The women’s volleyball team was forced to play five games for the first time in two months in their come-from-behind win to beat archrival BYU 25-16, 29-31, 16-25, 25-20 and 15-11.

“For us to find a way to win after being down two games to one is a great feat for us,” said head coach Beth Launiere.

Despite beating BYU in three quick games in Provo and winning the first game easily, Launiere said she wasn’t confident in the team’s level of play.

“We weren’t playing well in the first set,” Launiere said. “They gave us a lot of points and I was really concerned.”

As the Utes dropped a tight second set and let the Cougars roll over them in the third, Launiere’s concern was validated.

After the Utes committed only three hitting errors in the first set, BYU had the upper hand in the next two sets, forcing 23 Utah hitting errors.

The Utes came out looking like a new team in the fourth set and fought their way back, looking confident and relaxed.

“After the third set, we just looked at each other like, “We’re not losing this game,'” said Karolina Bartkowiak. “We weren’t talking or playing as a team, we knew we had to come out and support each other.”

In the team’s last meeting against BYU, Utah broke the school record for block assists in a match, but that same powerful defense was nowhere to be found this time around.

Utah stopped only seven balls compared to the 20 it got in the last match and had to rely on its offense to get the points it needed.

The defense was led by Chelsey Sandberg, who had four blocks, while Keisha Fisher dug up 27 balls on the back row.

While all of the Utah hitters had eight or more kills, it was Bartkowiak and Kathryn Haynie who made big plays when Utah needed it most.

“That is what is so cool about our team, so many players that can step up,” Haynie said. “Everyone is ready when their number is called on to get kills when needed.”

Haynie led the team with 15 kills, and Bartkowiak earned a season-high 13 kills and a .455 hitting percentage.

“BYU’s focus was on the middles, Emillie (Toone) had a lot of blockers on her which left me open and I knew it was up to me to put it down,” Bartkowiak said.

Launiere said that despite earning the win, the team has a lot of hard work to do before next week’s matches.

“We are playing kind of shaky right now,” Launiere said. “We’ve got to go back to practice and fix things.”

The win gave the Utes their No. 12 straight MWC win and earned them the Deseret First Duel trophy, as they beat BYU in both matches this season.

“It was awesome to come from behind, especially against BYU,” Haynie said. “It was amazing for us as seniors to beat BYU for the last time.”

Utah will finish out its season this week with matches against Wyoming and Colorado State.

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