No. 16 Utah Volleyball Splits Weekend

The+University+of+Utah+Volleyball+team+plays+against+Arizona+State+University+in+the+Huntsman+Center%2C+University+of+Utah+Campus%2C+Salt+Lake+City%2C+UT+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+1%2C+2019.+%28Photo+by+Mark+Draper+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

The University of Utah Volleyball team plays against Arizona State University in the Huntsman Center, University of Utah Campus, Salt Lake City, UT on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (Photo by Mark Draper | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlos Padilla, Sports Writer

The No. 16 University of Utah women’s volleyball team saw an action-packed weekend. The Utes started their weekend campaign on Friday night, when the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal came into the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Utah came out with fire, going up early in the first match 13-10. The Utes extended their advantage all the way to 17-12. Despite a strong rally by Stanford, Utah pulled together to clinch the first set with a final score of 25-23.

Using the momentum gained from their first-set victory, Utah put up a quick seven on the Cardinal to start off the second set. While the set seemed to be heading in Utah’s favor, the Cardinal rallied and tied the set at 19. Utah was able to go back up by one before Stanford unleashed a 5-0 run and closed out the set.

After the Cardinal clinched the second set, the momentum stayed with Stanford. While Utah was able to tie the third set up at 16 and 23, Stanford took the third set after a 2-point run. From there the Cardinal made sure to put the match away and maintain their fourth-place ranking.

While the night did not end in Utah’s favor, Friday’s meeting proved to be a special night for Brianna Doehrmann. The senior led Utah with an impressive 21 digs throughout the night. This performance placed Doehrmann second all-time in the program’s record books. With the season winding down, Doehrmann only requires 26 more digs to become the all-time Utes leader.

After a day to regroup and prepare, Utah played their second Pac-12 and ranked opponent of the weekend. The No. 24 California Golden Bears made the trip from Berkeley to square off against the Utes Sunday afternoon.

The match was dominated by Utah’s Kenzie Koerber. With a career-high 19 kills, nine digs, six blocks and three service aces, the junior from Chino Hills was a key performer for the Utes. Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres also showed up big today with 48 assists and 10 digs.

With the first set reaching a tie at seven points apiece, the Utes unleashed an 8-1 run on Cal, coasting to a comfortable 9-point victory to begin the afternoon. Not wanting a repeat of the first set, the Golden Bears came out fighting and took the second set in a closely contested 24-26 victory.

With a quick regroup in the locker room, Utah came out and led the third set 16-11. While the Bears tried to close the gap, Utah played with attitude and kept Cal at bay. Utah went a 6-point run and went up in the match, two sets to one.

With a victory on the horizon, Utah stepped up to close the match. Towards the middle of the set, the Utes led by a score of 14-9. Not planning to go out quietly, Cal began to rally. While Utah was knocking on the door, Cal tightened the lead. After a quick timeout to regroup, Utah was able to dig deep and secure the victory.

After the match, head coach Beth Launiere said that there was a good growth from Friday to Sunday.

“I thought today was a tough match against a good team. They did some things defensively with their block that caused us some trouble for a while. I thought we adjusted really well,” Launiere said. “The players responded, and we found some things that worked. We have a lot of offensive weapons. They took some away from us, and we were able to go to some other people. I think that’s a sign of a good team. I think we’re in good shape for the rest of the year. We want to finish strong in the Pac and be ready for the tournament.”

Koerber felt that Sunday’s match made her feel more confident heading into the final stretch.

“I haven’t been having the best confidence in myself the last few weeks. I had a conversation with Beth [Lauinere] yesterday that really helped me, and I left feeling a lot better, and I just knew that today I could come in and play with my usual confidence,” Koerber said. “This has been my favorite year with the team dynamic. There isn’t any drama, we all come together and work. Not many teams have that leisure where we’re all just here to do work, and I think that’s a big part of our success this year.”

With the only two matches remaining, the Utes are looking in great shape to enter the tournament. Senior Night will be on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 4 p.m. After the ceremonies, the Utes will square off against Pac-12 opponent Oregon State.

 

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