Utes look for revenge against California in taking on USC, UCLA


— Dane Goodwin

Although it’s early November, you may see a couple of ballerinas, a cow girl and Batman playing volleyball at the Huntsman Center. No, it’s not a couple of holiday-confused students. It’s members of the volleyball team prepping for their annual Halloween practice.
Due to traveling for away games the last two weeks, the Halloween practice had to be moved to November, but that didn’t matter as the players came out in full costume, ready to compete.
“The athletes have fun with it, so it’s a good thing,” said head coach Beth Launiere.
Some players stayed in their costumes throughout the entire practice while others could not move in their costume and had to take them off. Senior Lea Adolph dressed up as a bubble bath and was covered in balloons.
“It’s always fun to dress up in something different than just volleyball players,” Adolph said.
For the players who did stay in their costumes, it made practice that much more interesting. Katoa, who was in a leotard all practice for her ballerina costume, had mixed feelings after the practice.
“I could move pretty well, but I kind of learned that I should never wear a leotard ever again,” she said.
The most impressive Halloween costume, and probably the scariest for Utah passers, was that of assistant coach Brian Doyon, who dressed up as USC’s jump server Samantha Bricio. The star for the Trojans has 65 aces on the season, which is good enough for first place in the conference. Eight of her 65 aces came on Oct. 11 against Utah.
Doyon didn’t literally dress up as Bricio, but he did act as her in practice. Doyon would stand on a box to be able to create a similar serve to that of Bricio. Adolph said Doyon’s serve was pretty similar to Bricio’s — fast, flat and swerving all over the place.
After laughing it off, he admitted his “weak arm” can’t compare to Bricio’s art form.
“Bricio’s been training that serve for a long time, and she’s got it to work really well,” Doyon said. “You just gotta be patient, see the serve and make one move to the ball.”
Bricio’s jump serve attracts the most attention, but she also leads USC in kills with 332 and second in digs with 238.
USC got off to a shaky start in conference play, losing its first three matches, but since then, the Trojans are an impressive 6-3.
Launiere has planned some different things for USC as far as lineup changes go but would not disclose any further information. However, she did say that if her changes fail on Friday night that she would go back to her regular lineup on Sunday for UCLA.
The Bruins come into the weekend off of a shaky offensive display in Washington. They were held to eight points in the third set of a sweep by the Huskies.
This was extremely surprising because UCLA leads the country in kills per set with 15.1 and is considered one of the most prolific offenses in the conference. Senior Karsta Lowe is a legitimate AVCA Player of the Year candidate, as she is currently fifth in the nation in kills with 477.
As for defensive adjustments for Lowe, Launiere has one idea, but she’s not completely sure she’ll use it.
“We might look to move our defense up because she hits the ball straight down,” Launiere said.
Last time these two teams played, Lowe set a new career-high in kills with 31 and when UCLA needs a point, everybody in the gym knows the ball is going to No. 17 for the Bruins. In that game, the Utes were lucky enough to force a fifth set, but it was Lowe who put Utah away as she received the ball nearly evert time in the shortened set.
The Utes will look to get some revenge against the California schools when they host USC on Friday at 6 p.m. MT and UCLA on Sunday at 2 p.m. MT.
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