Utes trounce Cal Poly to extend winning streak

By By Bubba Brown

By Bubba Brown

The No. 17 ranked Ute volleyball team easily earned its fourth consecutive win to begin the season undefeated as it beat Cal Poly in three sets.

The Utes were led by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hibbert, who had 13 kills and a .526 hitting percentage.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hibbert said. “We just know to go out and focus on our team. We weren’t sure what they would bring tonight.”

Hibbert tallied three kills in the decisive third set, which was the closest of the match. The Utes began the set with a 4-0 run, eventually starting out with a 12-4 lead.
The teams fought back and forth until Cal Poly mounted a comeback to get within two points at 22-20. Ending the threat, Utah scored three of the final four points to win the set and the match 25-21.

Utah head coach Beth Launiere said she was happy with her team’s offensive performance.

“We executed at a high level,” Launiere said. “For the most part, we kept it pretty good. Sarah had over four kills per game. Offensively we’re doing really good things.”
The match began well for the Utes when they rattled off three straight points to open the first set. They eventually pushed the score to 11-5, forcing the Mustangs to take a timeout. The Utes then went on an 11-4 run to take a commanding 22-9 lead. The Mustangs won three of the next five points, but after a lengthy volley, Utah wrapped up the set 25-12.
The second set was much of the same, though Cal Poly jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage and held a lead until the Utes tied the score at nine. The following play, the Utes took a lead they would not relinquish, eventually taking it an eight-point lead at 20-12. With the score at 22-12, back-to-back aces by senior middle blocker Chelsey Sandberg set up the game point, which Utah won on a Cal Poly serve into the net.
The Utes are undefeated to begin the season, a fact that had Hibbert smiling after the game.

“It feels good to be 4-0,” Hibbert said. “Team chemistry is going well, communication is getting better. I think there’s synergy on the court.”

The Utes spent Monday’s practice focusing on serving and blocking, things Launiere thought the Utes did not do well during the Utah Classic.

“We served well,” Launiere said. “We served better than we did this weekend.”
Launiere was not as pleased with the team’s progress on blocking. The Utes are averaging just 2.6 blocks per game, which is a full block below last season’s average.

“We’re just not seeing the game,” she said. “We’re not making good decisions.”
Junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak narrowly missed her third double-double of the season, finishing with nine kills and a career-high 15 digs. Senior outside hitter Cinthia Silva contributed eight kills and six digs.

Next up for the Utes is the Utah Valley Tournament, where the Utes will meet host Utah Valley University, Washington State and Missouri. The action begins Friday at 7 p.m in Orem.

Tyler Cobb

Senior Chelsey Sandberg served a career-high six aces in the Utes? win against Cal Poly on Tuesday night. The Utes won three sets to none and improved to 4-0 for the season.