Team sweeps Bankers Classic

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The Utah women’s volleyball team continued its streak by claiming its eighth and ninth consecutive victories in winning the 30th Annual Pacific Bankers Classic.

The No. 21 Utes swept Nevada on Friday and earned a four-set victory over Pacific on Saturday to finish out its regular season with a 24-5 record.

“It was really good for us to play these matches to get over the championship and move on and play teams we haven’t seen before,” said head coach Beth Launiere.

The Utes started out the tournament Friday by hitting .303 and slamming down 41 kills to come away with a convincing 25-16, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of the Nevada Wolfpack.

Lori Baird, the tournament MVP, led the attack in Utah’s opening match with 11 kills and only one error to hit a .526 on the night. Cinthia Silva added another 10 kills and hit for a season high .444.

The Utes also had a solid game defensively, as they held the Wolfpack to a .044 hitting percentage and got nine blocks in the win. Emillie Toone led the block with four while Keisha Fisher and Silva both dug up nine balls on the back row.

“Cinthia had a really good tournament for us and that helps us so much,” Launiere said. “Our usual suspects played well, but it was nice to get some big time performances out of her.”

The match against Pacific wasn’t as easy for the Utes, as they dropped the first set 15-25 before recovering to take the next three games 25-14, 25-19 and 25-20.

“It was a tough turnaround from the emotional championship game, but we played better as the weekend went on,” Launiere said. “Pacific was a good team and it was (a) hard-fought match, it was good to get us onto a new page.”

As it has been all season, Utah’s defense was key against Pacific, as the Utes blocked 15 balls, forced 30 hitting errors and dug up 47 balls on the back row.

Baird led the front line once again against Pacific with nine blocks, while Silva and Toone both pitched in six. Fisher led the floor defense with 14 digs and Silva added another 12.

Karolina Bartkowiak, who was recently named to the all-Mountain West Conference team, had nine kills. Silva rounded out the game with eight kills.

The Utes hope the finishing out the regular season with two road trip wins will help them get a better seed in the NCAA tournament, which starts Dec. 7.

“I think it’s great for us to be able to get these two wins8212;24 wins and five losses, it is a good record,” Launiere said.

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Lennie Mahler

Lori Baird was named the tournament MVP of the Pacific Bankers Classic for her performances in the Utes two tournament wins. The Utes finished the season with an overall record of 24-5.