For their last non-conference tournament, the University of Utah volleyball team is headed to Villanova for the Villanova Volleyball Invitational. The Utes will start their first match off against Villanova on Friday, Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. MT, and will close off the tournament on Saturday, Sept. 8 after playing Temple at 9 a.m. MT and High Point at 5 p.m MT.
This will be the first time the Utes will go up against both Villanova and High Point. Utah has gone 2-0 with Temple with the Utes’ most recent match against Temple in 2016, defeating them 3-0.
Villanova, the host of the tournament, comes in with the same 5-1 record as the Utes. Villanova won all their matches at their first non-conference tournament at the Delaware Invite against La Salle University 3-0, Morgan State 3-1 and Delaware 3-1. This last weekend they had 2 wins and 1 loss at the Kristin Dickman Memorial Tournament, winning against Dartmouth 3-0 and Navy 3-0 with a loss from the University of Alabama 2-3.
High Point University is coming into the tournament with a 1-5 record, getting swept in both of their matches at the Auburn Tournament against Auburn 0-3, and Michigan 0-3. They then went on to compete in the Kennesaw State Tournament, where the Panthers lost to Kennesaw State 2-3 and beat Jacksonville 3-1. This past Sunday, High Point University played their most recent matches at the HotelRed Invitational, taking 2 losses against both No.2 Texas 0-3 and No.8 Wisconsin 1-3.
Utah’s last opponent of the tournament, Temple, is coming into the weekend with a 1-5 record as well. Temple played in the Hilton Penn’s Landing Temple Invitational where they took their first and only win against Rhode Island 3-1 and lost their matches against LMU 1-3 and Hofstra 2-3. This past weekend Temple University played in the Penn State Invitational and lost all 3 matches against Penn State University 0-3, Texas A&M 0-3 and Indiana University 2-3.
The Utes are starting off strong, coming into the tournament with a 5-1 record. They went 2-1 at the Utah Volleyball Classic, defeating both UC Irvine and Denver, with their only loss being up against Saint Mary’s. The Utes went 3-0 this last weekend at the Montana Volleyball Invitational as they cruised by the Grizzlies out of the University of Montana, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Cyclones of Iowa State.
The Utes have been working great as a team and have strong team leaders who are helping the team succeed as a whole. Some of these players to take note of are outside hitter Lauga Gauta and middle blocker Phoebe Grace. Gauta is leading with 84 kills hitting .310 from the first 6 matches of the season. Her average of 4.0 kills per set is fifth in the Pac-12. Grace is leading the Utes with 38 blocks. She set a career high of 11.0 blocks against Montana this past weekend and is currently tied for the most blocks in any Pac-12 match so far this season.
This weekend’s matches will be available for live streaming along with live stats. Links can be found on utahutes.com.