Utes? loss snaps home-game winning streak

By By Bubba Brown

By Bubba Brown

The Ute volleyball team fell to No. 12 Oregon 3-1 on Tuesday night at Crimson Court.

The loss snapped a 13-game home winning streak dating back to Sept. 13, 2008, when the Utes lost to then-No. 15 Purdue in five sets. The loss also drops the Utes to 6-5 on the year heading into conference play.

The Utes won the first set 25-22 with the help of four kills each by Bartkowiak, Hibbert and senior middle blocker Chelsey Sandberg. The set was tied at six when a kill by Sandberg gave the Utes a lead they would not relinquish.

“We played good volleyball,” said head coach Beth Launiere of the first set. “We had an intense practice yesterday. They are responding to some tough losses they’ve had.”
After losing the first set, the Ducks took the final three sets, which Launiere said was a byproduct of inconsistent play.

“We’re too streaky,” she said. “We go up and down in our confidence. We’ve got to play a complete match8212;a little steadier match.”

In the second set, Oregon scored five of the first seven points before a kill by junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak and a block by redshirt freshman middle blocker Miranda Bradshaw brought the Utes to within one. The Ducks expanded their lead to five, and Oregon won nine of the next 14 points to take the set 25-17.

“We had a lot of energy in the first set,” said Bartkowiak. “I think in the second set we kind of relaxed a little bit.”

The Utes were unable to establish a consistent offensive attack in the second set, as they hit only .172, with no Utah player earning more than two kills.

Utah tied the third set at one after a kill by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hibbert, but on the next play, Oregon took a lead it wouldn’t give up. The Ducks’ lead hovered around four for most of the set, but a six-point stretch that saw Utah score only once on a kill by Bartkowiak gave Oregon a 21-13 lead. Five straight Utah points, including a kill and block by sophomore outside hitter Jennifer Lanting, put the score at 22-18, but the Ducks finished out the set 25-20 before Utah could come back.

The final set also belonged to the Ducks, who took a 4-1 lead early on. Four straight kills by Bartkowiak, Hibbert and sophomore middle blocker Danielle Killpack gave the Utes a 5-4 lead.

The Ducks responded with eight consecutive scores to take control 12-5, after which Utah was never able to get within six points of the lead.

“I think it’s gonna be a work in progress,” Launiere said. “I was very happy with how we competed tonight. Oregon played really good defense against us.”

Bartkowiak tied for the team lead with 13 kills on 31 attempts for a .258 hitting percentage.
“It doesn’t mean much if you don’t win,” Bartkowiak said.

The Utes begin conference play Thursday with a matchup against Air Force at Crimson Court at 7 p.m.

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Mike Mangum

Karolina Bartkowiak had 13 kills and seven digs during the Utes? loss to Oregon on Tuesday night. Utah took the first set from the Ducks before dropping the next three.