Utah moves past loss to BYU, focuses on conference play


— Preston Zubal

After suffering its first loss of the season on Friday to in-state rivals BYU, Utah will have to bounce back quickly as Pac-12 play starts Thursday night.
Senior Bailey Bateman was confident after the BYU game that her team would be able to bounce back from the loss with a good week of practice.
“I think it’s gonna be a really positive week of practice,” she said. “It’s all about moving forward, and learning from Friday is what this week is going to be about.”
After Monday’s practice, head coach Beth Launiere was pleased with the attitude of her athletes.
“It was great. They came in 100 percent focused and ready to work hard,” Launiere said. “We got a lot accomplished, and they had a great mentality.”
Pac-12 Preview
Utah was picked to finish 10th by Pac-12 coaches in the preseason poll. The Utes were not too happy about this, but they are using the unfortunate ranking as motivation.
“It’s definitely not something that you would want to hear, you don’t want to feel like you’re ranked 10th in a 12-team conference,” Bateman said. “It was definitely a disappointing announcement when we heard it, but I feel like it fuels us to work even harder to prove that ranking wrong.”
Out of all the conferences, the Pac-12 may be the toughest of them all. Last season, the conference qualified nine teams for the NCAA Tournament, including Utah, who was knocked out in the second round.
The Utes start Pac-12 play on Thursday with the team against whom they’ve seen the most success since joining the conference — Colorado. Since the two teams simultaneously joined the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has won four of six meetings with the Buffaloes.
Season Goals
Last season, the Utes made the NCAA tournament for the first time since joining the Pac-12. Utah made it to the round of 32 after beating Yale in the first round, but was left unsatisfied.
In 2014, the team’s goal is to go farther in the tournament, which would mean at least a Sweet 16 appearance.
“We definitely need to play consistently, and minimizing the errors on our side of the net will be the key to getting us to the Sweet 16,” Bateman said.
Launiere didn’t want to make specific expectations as far as what round of the tournament the Utes need to make, but the head coach said she’d like to see her team improve its Pac-12 record and that getting to the NCAA Tournament is the goal every season.
Making the NCAA tournament will be difficult, as the Pac-12 had seven teams in the latest AVCA Coaches poll, but the Utes are up to the challenge.
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