Volleyball: No. 12 Utah Upset by No. 19 USC in Five Sets


Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah Volleyball senior middle blocker Tawnee Luafalemana (20) and senior outside hitter Carly Trueman (10) leap to block a spike in a set of matches vs. The Oregon Ducks at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carra McManamon

It has been said that all good things must come to an end, and for the No. 12 ranked University of Utah volleyball team, that happened with a loss to No. 19 ranked USC on Sunday, as it snapped its seven-match winning streak.

“I just don’t think we played our best match, and I think that they [USC] gained confidence as the match went on and by set five we just couldn’t respond anymore,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “It was just kind of a systematic breakdown as the match went down.”

Adora Anae finished the match with 14 kills and two blocks. Tawnee Luafalemana had nine kills and six blocks for the Utes, but the numbers from both seniors weren’t enough to carry Utah to a victory.

“We could not execute today,” Luafalemana said. “I actually think USC played really well. We went out there really slow today. Sunday, super early. But as a whole, we could not execute really well.”

Things started off strong for the Utes, as they won the first set 25-21. Utah went on a 6-0 run to bring itself within a point of the Trojans. After the Utes tacked on five more points to their score, the Trojans responded and came within three points of tying the match. But it was a kill by Berkeley Oblad at the end that sealed the Utah set one victory.

Set two went to the Trojans after a back-and-forth battle between the two teams all set long. Utah led at one point, 19-15, but the Trojans went on a run and the Utes couldn’t get momentum back on their side.

Moving on to set three, Utah dominated in the early stages. The Utes held an 11 point advantage, but the Trojans fought their way back into the set, 24-20. It wasn’t until another late kill from Oblad gave the Utes the set win.

The fourth set is when things started to fall apart for the Utes. After leading by a score of 13-9, the pesky Trojans, once again, found ways to make the Utah defense crumble slowly, which resulted in a USC 25-21 triumph.

“You act like you don’t have any response then that gets to be a little, you know, everyone shuts down and I think that happened,” Launiere said. “You can’t do that, there’s always a response to make.”

The Utes couldn’t muster a comeback in the fifth and final set of the night. The Trojans used the energy they had flowing that they accumulated all night long to get off to a 5-1 start. Utah tried to rally back into the set when it went on a 3-1 run, but that was all Utah had to bring to the table. The Trojans claimed the upset over the home team, 15-9.

Luafalemana knows that the Utes didn’t play their best match this afternoon. Midway through their season, Luafalemana hopes Utah uses this as a wake-up call.

“We’re going to go over our goals again,” Luafalemana said. “We had a setout goal sheet that we wanted. It was like win top of the Pac-12, final four, all that stuff. “

The Utes will next head on the road to face Oregon on Wednesday, Oct. 25 and Oregon State two days later. The Utes lost to Oregon and beat Oregon State earlier this season.

The action at Matthew Knight Arena gets underway at 8 p.m. MT.

[email protected]