Utah Volleyball Drops Weekend Matches at Washington

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U of U Volleyball’s Senior outside hitter, Kenzie Koerber (#4), in the game vs the USC Trojans on Feb. 14, 2021 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on campus. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By J. Prather, Sports Writer

 

The University of Utah Volleyball team was dealt two crushing defeats this weekend in close games on the road in Seattle against the University of Washington Huskies. The two matches are the Utes’ first losses of the season that is now at the halfway mark. 

Washington took the first match in straight sets that Utah made them fight for. In the first, Washington went up 4-1 but after trading points, Utah took four to go up 5-6. Utah would later capitalize with Madelyn Robinson at the service line to take a three-point advantage at 12-15, but Washington answered with their own four-point run, taking back the lead 16-15. The teams traded points from there with the Huskies edging out the Utes 25-21.

The second set went similarly to the first, with both teams trading points until the end where Washington took the final two points and the set at 25-23. In both sets, Utah held the lead at least once and kept the score close when they lost it, tying 19 times until ultimately falling. In the third, however, Washington grabbed an early lead that Utah would not recover from and the Huskies took the set 25-19. 

On the night, seniors Dani Drews and Kenzie Koerber had 13 and 10 kills respectively. Freshman Vanessa Ramirez led in digs with 10 and junior Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres had 32 assists.

In Saturday’s match, both teams performed much the same as Thursday. Utah matched Washington point for point with the Huskies going on streaks mid-set to take close but comfortable leads that Utah could not reclaim. The third set of the second match was the only outlier. Utah took the first point and limited Washington to two three-point runs. Although the Utes held the lead for only a point in the beginning, they battled back and eventually would retake the lead with their 23rd point and the set at 23-25. It would end up being for naught, though, as Washington took the fourth and final set of the weekend, beating Utah 3-0 and 3-1.

Washington was a blocking machine on Saturday with 17 to Utah’s eight. Utah did have two more aces on the board, but the team was short on kills with 46 to Washington’s 58. Drews had a spectacular Saturday match after a dip in stats on Thursday. She recorded 21 kills and an uncharacteristic 15 digs — matching her season-high from earlier in February at Arizona State.

Utah’s hopes of taking the Pac-12 are far from dashed and the likelihood of NCAA tournament selection in April is still high. This weekend’s losses could be chalked up to having taken a week off the court after their match with Oregon was canceled due to COVID-19 protocol, which was then followed by an on the road match against the toughest opponent of the season. Utah will have to learn from mistakes in preparation to host Stanford in Salt Lake on Friday, March 5 and Sunday, March 7.

 

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@JP_at_TheChrony