Volleyball: No. 16 Utah Defeats Utah Valley to Close Nonconference Schedule


Jose Rems

University of Utah Girls Volleyball Dani Barton (1) cheering with team after point against BYU at the Hunstman center in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday,Sept.14, 2017 (Photo by Jose Remes/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carra McManamon

To close out its nonconference schedule, the No. 16 ranked University of Utah volleyball team (9-2) earned a 3-1 win over Utah Valley (5-9) this past Friday. The Utes were able to come back and redeem themselves after dropping their previous match against No. 14 ranked BYU.

“Less than 24 hours later we had to play a Utah Valley team on the road,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “We actually dropped that first set but came back and won that match. [We’re] 9-2, and [I’m] fairly pleased with that.”

The Utes were forced to take a time out after falling behind 10-5 in the first set against the Wolverines. They were unable to catch up to Utah Valley who started off hot and finished with a 25-19 win.

Launiere was concerned about nonconference play when it came to playing a high intensity match against an in-state rival like BYU and then having a quick turnaround. But all of the experience Utah gained over this past weekend is what it needed as it heads into Pac-12 play.

“You have to play two good matches in a weekend and often it will be two top 25 ranked teams so you know the BYU match was absolutely a high emotion match and we’re gonna have to steady out,” Launiere said. “You have to steady out in the Pac-12 and you have to understand that you have to be good over time.”

In the second set of the night, the Utes won 25-18. It was a battle from both sides until Shannon Scully sparked a 5-1 run after a kill. The Utes continued with that momentum as they took a commanding 2-1 lead after a third set set 25-16 victory. Tawnee Luafalemana and Carly Trueman both helped the team start off on a 6-0 run. Dani Barton also contributed to the victory, as she had back-to-back kills before finishing her night with 10 total kills.

In what was the final set of the night, the Wolverines battled, but it wasn’t enough to force a fifth set. The Utes took a 13-4 lead, but Utah Valley went on a 13-4 run to tie the match at 17 all. In the end, Utah slid past Utah Valley, 25-22. Luafalemana had back-to-back kills for a career-high 18 kills on the night. She also had a career-high hitting percentage of .857. Scully finished with 15 kills and one block, while Trueman put up 14 kills and three blocks. Choy recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 54 assists and 11 digs. Overall, Utah finished the night with a .322 hitting percentage.

“We played 11 matches before we open up Pac-12 this weekend,” Launiere said. “We went 9-2 and two losses were two top 25 teams by two points, so at the end of the day if you would of asked me at the beginning of the season if we would be happy being 9-2 at this point, I would say absolutely.”

The Utes open up their Pac-12 schedule at the Hunstman Center. They’ll play against No. 25 Colorado on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. MT before facing California on Sunday, Sept 24 at 2 p.m. MT.

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