Utes get close win over Weber State

By By Bubba Brown

By Bubba Brown

The Utah volleyball team fought off Weber State to win its fifth consecutive match 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 28-26).

Senior middle blocker Chelsey Sandberg had a career-high 14 kills and junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak had 17 kills with a .800 hitting percentage to put the Utes over the top of a Wildcat team that pushed back, despite entering the match with just a 3-13 record.

“I thought Weber played real well,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “I thought it was going to go to a fifth game.”

The Wildcats began the match with a 4-1 run, but kills by Sandberg and Bartkowiak and a Weber State error allowed the Utes to tie it at five. Weber State went on another run that put it up 14-10, but Bartkowiak came through with a kill and three straight blocks to tie it at 14. From there, the first set was all Utah, as it ran away with a 25-17 win.

Sandberg said the Utes didn’t take the Wildcats lightly.

“We didn’t look at their record,” she said. “Beth kept saying they are an in-state team, and they always want to beat Utah.”

Utah fell behind again to begin the second set, but kills by Sandberg and sophomore outside hitter Sarah Hibbert, as well as two errors by Weber State evened the game. The set was tied again at 10, but the Wildcats scored seven of the next eight points to take a six-point lead. Utah used kills by Bartkowiak and Sandberg to tie the set at 18. After trading the next few points, the teams were tied at 23, but back-to-back scores by Weber State gave them the set.

“No excuses,” Launiere said. “I don’t think we were focused enough.”

The Utes climbed to an early 4-1 lead in the third set and eventually took a 10-5 lead, though the Wildcats once again came back to tie it at 10. It was closely contested for nearly the rest of the set, but the Utes held a small lead throughout. Utah would use two kills late in the set by Hibbert to win the set 25-21.

“It was one of those days we were off a little,” Sandberg said. “We picked it up in the third set.”

Weber State opened the fourth set with a 5-1 run, which it expanded to a six-point lead that it carried as late as 15-9. However, Utah used a 9-3 run, highlighted by two kills by Bartkowiak, to tie the match at 18. The Wildcats retook the lead 22-19 before two kills each by Sandberg and Bartkowiak allowed Utah to earn a 24-24 tie. The two teams shared points until an error by Weber State and a kill by Bartkowiak won the set and the match for the Utes.

“I was pleased with how we fought and found a way to win,” Launiere said. “We’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to learn from this.”

e Utes will stay at Crimson Court and return to conference play Thursday when they host TCU at 7 p.m.

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Tyler Cobb

Karolina Bartkowiak celebrates after Utah won the fourth set to beat Weber State 3-1 Tuesday Night. Utah faced set point a few time before getting the win and avoiding the fifth set.