Volleyball: No. 18 Utah Sweeps Competition in Utah Volleyball Classic


By Carra McManamon

Making its home debut after playing back-to-back tournaments on the road, the No. 18 ranked University of Utah Volleyball team (8-1) found success on their home court as they took down all three teams competing in the Utah Volleyball Classic this past weekend.

Utah earned its first victory by upsetting No. 15 ranked San Diego on Friday night in five sets. It was a back-and-forth battle between the Utes and Toreros as the Utes claimed the first victory in the first set, 25-22. San Diego took the second set 25-17 before the Utes took the third set by a score of 25-19. The fourth set went to San Diego, 25-22, but the fifth set was when Utah claimed its victory, winning 16-14.

Finishing the match with a .269 percentage hitting wise, the Utes tallied 67 total kills and 13 blocks. Outside hitter Adora Anae lead the team with 19 kills. She also contributed four blocks in addition to middle blocker Berkeley Oblad and outside hitter Carly Trueman’s four blocks. Outside hitter Lauga Gauta was proud of her team’s effort and the way it opened its play at home.

“The majority of us were just focusing on our kind of play, like what were we going to do to maintain our composure and everyone was excited,” Gauta said. “We were like ‘Okay we gotta beat the 15th team, we’re 18th, and just gotta work together.’ It was more teamwork and focusing together as one.”

The Utes took on Green Bay on Saturday in their first match of a doubleheader where they defeated the Phoenix, 3-0. It was all Utah in this match as it won 25-9, 25-16 and 25-15. The Utes limited the Phoenix to a -.019 hitting percentage on the day, while finishing with their own hitting percentage of .390. After the upset win the night before, Launiere was worried about how the second game would unfold.

“I was actually a little bit concerned about a letdown, and these second matches of the tournament are always tough,” Launiere said. “But I was really proud of our team for the execution that we had today [Saturday] and the energy.”

Gauta had a kill in the second set when the match was tied 10-10, and that helped the Utes pull away and go on an 11-1 run.

“I love it. I can’t explain how I feel when I get to play, and I hear the bench cheering for me,” Gauta said. “I’m blessed to have teammates like that who support whoever goes on the court, no matter if you don’t play or not.”

Launiere credits the energy that Gauta brings when she is on the bench to the excitement that her teammates have for her while she is playing.

“She’s very active on the bench as a really good energy person for our team in general,” Launiere said. “And I think when she gets the opportunity, people are excited for her.”

Middle blocker Tawnee Luafalemana had a season-high 10 kills for the Utes. Outside hitter Dani Barton added nine kills and seven blocks for the Utes who out-blocked the Phoenix, 13-3.

In the final match of the tournament, the Utes swept the Missouri Tigers as they went 25-20, 27-25 and 25-19. Anae had 15 kills and five blocks, Oblad had 11 kills and Barton added three blocks. The Utes had 13 blocks in their final match of the tournament.

The All-Tournament MVP award went to Oblad and Trueman and setter Bailey Choy earned All-Tournament Team Honors.

The Utes will next play BYU on Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Huntsman Center at 7 pm.

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