The No. 17 University of Utah volleyball team’s season came to an end on Friday night when the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal beat the Utes in five sets. The Utes made it to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in program history and have finished out the season at 24-10, 14-6 Pac-12.
Last weekend when the NCAA tournament began, the Utes took on a strong team Illinois team. Utah went five sets to keep themselves in the tournament after losing the second and third set. Next, they took on No. 14 seed BYU on their home court. The Utes got their rhythm early and didn’t stop. Utah avenged their four-set loss to BYU earlier in the season and swept the higher-ranked BYU in three straight sets, all scored at 25-15. BYU hasn’t been swept at home since 2011.
This is the third time this season the Cardinal and Utes have faced off this season, but this match was easily the closest and most competitive between the two unbelievable teams.
Utah came out ready in the first set, getting their lead up to 12-5 before Stanford answered back to tie it at 21. The Utes were able to keep their momentum and take the first set at 25-22. For the second set, it was the Cardinal who got their rhythm early and never stopped, taking set two at 14-25. In the third, Stanford dominated the set the whole time, winning it 10-25.
The Utes knew when the fourth came around this was their chance for redemption, and that’s exactly what they achieved. Utah got the lead early at 7-2 and even went on a 6-0 run later on to push the score to 19-10. Stanford fought back but it was not enough — the Utes took it 25-12 and pushed to a fifth set. For the final set, Utah and Stanford were in a point-for-point battle that the Cardinal won by going up 10-6 and eventually taking the set and match by 11-15.
Dani Drews led the team with 18 kills, Kenzie Koerber and Berkeley Oblad tabbed 12 apiece and Zoe Weatherington had 10. Brianna Doehrmann led the defense with 16 digs and Koerber matched her to also tab 16. As a team, Utah had a .200 hitting percentage, eight blocks and 59 kills. Stanford was just better overall on all ends tonight, but the Utes were especially hurt by their opponents’ blocking. Stanford ended the night with 21 blocks compared to Utah’s eight.
Although the Utes’ season comes to an end, it is one fans will never forget, as so many players were able to break program history records this year. Drews is the first player to have over 600 kills in a single season, Doehrmann now leads all-time in digs, Oblad is the fourth player in school history to tab over 1,000 kills and 500 blocks and Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres matched the assists record. The Utes had one of the best seasons in recent memory, and the future is bright for this talented team.