No 18. Utah to Head to Northern California for Two Games

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No 18. Utah to Head to Northern California for Two Games

By Mallory Arnold

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The University of Utah (13-4, 5-1 Pac-12) volleyball team is heading to northern California to take on two huge competitors this week. The Utes will face up against the University of California, Berkeley (5-1, 15-1 Pac-12) and Stanford University (5-1, 11-3 Pac-12).

Last week, the Utes took on UCLA and USC, first sweeping UCLA and then winning the five set battle against USC. This made for a successful weekend at home and increased the Utes to 13-4, 5-1 Pac-12. The Utes haven’t beat both southern California teams since 2014.

Kenzie Koerber was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week after she totaled 32 kills with a .467 hitting percentage. This is the first time that Koerber has earned this honor.

Right now, the Utes are on a four game win streak, but even though they are 5-1 in Pac 12, both Stanford and California have the same record.  All three teams are ranked in the top 20 of the NCAA AVCA coaches poll with Stanford at No. 2, Cal at 15 and Utah at 18.

All three teams are ranked 1st in Pac-12 standings right now, which makes this weekend’s matches critical for everyone. Cal is holding down first place in the conference, with Stanford coming in a close second place. Utah is currently third in the Pac-12. 

NCAA.com is ranking the first match against Cal as one of the top three college volleyball matches to watch this week in the nation. Last year, Cal was able to take both matches from the Utes, the first in five sets and the second in four. However, before that the Utes beat Cal in four consecutive matches. Dani Drews led the team with 21 kills and Koerber had 11 in last years match.

Later in the week, the Utes will head to Stanford to take on the reigning Pac-12 and NCAA champs in the Cardinals. Earlier in the week, Stanford will take on the Colorado Buffs, who the Utes swept earlier in the season and is 0-6 in Pac-12. Stanford only has two losses on the season so far to BYU and Washington. The team has been bouncing back and forth from No. 1 and No. 2 on the polls after their strong season last year. 

Last fall, the Utes weren’t able to defeat the Cardinals. They lost in three straight sets at Stanford, and then went 1-3 at home. With the Utes hitting percentage much higher up this season paired with minimal errors, there is a chance for the upset against the favored Stanford team. Drews had a game with 11 kills last fall and Berkeley Oblad was missing with an injury, which will help the team defensively this time around. 

The match in Berkeley will take place at 8 p.m. MT on Friday, Oct. 18 in the HAAS Pavilion. Then the Utes head to Stanford to take on the Cardinals at 3 p.m. MT the following Sunday, Oct. 20 in the Maples Pavilion. Both games will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks. 

 

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