Utes outhit Utah State to win 3-2

By Bubba Brown

The Utah volleyball team could get used to big performances from Sarah Hibbert.

Just two days removed from tallying 17 kills in a four-set win against Missouri, the sophomore outside hitter upped her career high to 21 kills to lift the Utes to a five-set victory over Utah State in Logan on Tuesday night.

Head coach Beth Launiere said the victory was hard-earned.

“I’m proud of the way we played tonight,” she said. “It was a bit of a grind-it-out-type win. We have a lot of work to do early in the season, but I really liked our effort and composure. Sarah had a good match offensively and Keisha (Fisher) and Cinthia (Silva) had a great match passing the ball. Hopefully our blocking will keep improving as well.”

Senior outside hitter Silva collected a double-double, pounding down 12 kills and gathering 12 digs, and junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak had 10 kills to go along with eight digs as she continues to be an offensive and defensive force for the Utes.

Utah State won the closely contested first set 25-23, as they leaped out to an early 11-5 advantage, but a kill by Bartkowiak began a 4-0 run that put the Utes back in striking distance. An ace by junior libero Keisha Fisher tied the score at 12. The Utes held a lead as late as 17-16 after a kill by senior middle blocker Chelsey Sandberg gave Utah the edge. Utah State was able to take a late three-point lead at 22-19 and hung on to win the set.

The second set belonged to Utah, which used three kills and four blocks from Bartkowiak to win 25-14. The Utes led 6-5 early in the set before a 4-0 Utah run8212;punctuated by back-to-back kills by Silva8212;gave the Utes a 10-5 advantage. Utah would eventually use a kill by Sandberg to extend its lead to nine points at 19-10. With the score at 24-14, a kill by Bartkowiak gave the Utes an emphatic victory in the set.

The Utes took the third set 25-20 to take control of the match, but despite keeping the fourth set close, were unable to finish the match as the Aggies won the set 25-21.

Utah closed out the match in the decisive fifth set, winning 15-10. The Aggies took the lead going into the fifth set but back-to-back blocks by Danielle Killpack and Jennifer Lanting gave the Utes the 5-4 lead. Hibbert earned five of her 21 kills in the fifth set to boost Utah to victory.

“In game three we really took over,” Launiere said. “In game four, they took over and in game five, we played well.”

Sophomore middle blocker Killpack contributed a career high of six kills and eight blocks. Sandberg added six blocks and Bartkowiak had five.

The Utes outhit the Aggies .237 to .126 to gain a 43-24 lead in the long-time series.

The Utes continue their road swing with the Santa Clara Invitational on Friday and Saturday, where they will face No. 25 Arizona and host Santa Clara.

Lennie Mahler

Cinthia Silva was one of three Utes to hit double-digit kills in their match against the Utah State Aggies at the Smith Spectrum in Logan. She finished with 12 and the Utes won 3-2.