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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Volleyball to take on Weber during break from conference play

By Bubba Brown

The Utah volleyball team will take a short hiatus from conference play, the last of the season, when it hosts Weber State University at Crimson Court on Tuesday night.

The Utes returned home after sweeping UNLV on Thursday, which improved their record to 10-5 overall and gave them an 18-match conference winning streak, extending back to September 2008.

Although the Wildcats don’t play in the Mountain West and pose no threat to Utah repeating as conference champions, the Utes don’t expect to let up.

“I think we do a good job of treating every match pretty much the same,” said senior middle blocker Chelsey Sandberg.

Weber State comes into the match with a 3-13 record.

The Wildcats are led offensively by senior outside hitter Chelsea Bair. The 2008 All-Big Sky Second Team performer has averaged 3.20 kills per set. Other notable offensive performers include senior outside hitter Jenna Leggat, who has collected 2.27 kills per set and senior libero Caitlyn Anderson, with 1.75 kills per set.

Defensively, senior middle blocker Amy Fackrell has averaged .87 blocks per set, and Bair has piled up a team-leading 139 digs to go along with .40 blocks per set.

Utah will look to continue its offensive momentum after hitting .371 against the Rebels, the second-highest mark of the season.

Head coach Beth Launiere said that the good offensive work of late has been a team effort.

“Our setters have experience now,” Launiere said. “Our passers are doing a great job. The hitters are also doing a great job, but they’re getting the ball where they need it.”

Statistically, four players are averaging nearly two or more kills per set. Junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak leads the way with 2.96 kills per set but is closely followed by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hibbert with 2.91 kills per set. Seniors Cinthia Silva and Sandberg have smacked 2.27 and 1.98 kills per set, respectively.

One reason for the depth of offensive weapons the Utes employ is the 6-2 formation they use, which allows for more hitters up front.

“Our system works for us because we have a lot of people who are able to pass,” Launiere said. “It poses problems for our opponents because we always have three hitters at the net.”

Sandberg said communication is also key to establishing a strong attack.
“We work a lot on offense,” Sandberg said. “With the setters, we have to communicate all the time so they know where to put the ball.”

The Utes have also performed well defensively, limiting opponents to hitting percentages under .200 in three of their past four matches. Sophomore middle blocker Danielle Killpack leads Utah with 1.18 blocks per set this season, but Sandberg is close behind with 1.09 blocks per set.

Utah is 7-1 in matches played at Crimson Court this year and is riding a season-high-tying four-match winning streak. The Utes will look to improve their home record as Weber State is the first of three home matchups this week.

The Utes will get back to conference play later in the week, as they welcome TCU to Salt Lake City on Thursday and host New Mexico on Saturday.

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