No. 9 Utah Volleyball Grabs Road Split at No. 17 UCLA

University+of+Utah+freshman+Vanessa+Ramirez+%2817%29+in+a+NCAA+Women%27s+Volleyball+game+vs.+the+Stanford+Cardinals+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Sunday%2C+Mar.+07%2C+2021.+%28Photo+by+Kevin+Cody+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah freshman Vanessa Ramirez (17) in a NCAA Women’s Volleyball game vs. the Stanford Cardinals at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday, Mar. 07, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah volleyball team split two meetings against No. 17 UCLA this weekend, moving their record to 11-3. Each game was decided by a score of 3-1, with each team winning one matchup. The Utes lost on Friday before a nice bounce-back performance Sunday afternoon.

Friday afternoon was not a great outing for Utah. After playing very evenly with the Bruins through the first two sets, leading to a 1-1 tie, they could not grab the next two. Each set was close, with Utah even taking a 17-9 lead in the fourth set. They couldn’t hold on, however, which eventually led to UCLA grabbing a victory over the Utes and setting up a very important match on Sunday. As a top-10 ranked team, Utah certainly couldn’t afford to drop two in a row. 

On Sunday afternoon, Utah lost the first set of the match after getting into a hole early. The Bruins came out firing and looked like a team ready to capitalize on the momentum of just a few days earlier. An attempted comeback fell short, and the Utes went down 1-0 again, dropping the first set 21-25. From there, though, it was some smooth sailing for Utah. They won the next three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-17 and a dominant 25-10.

It felt like they had finally figured out UCLA after the two teams had been playing each other very close for the whole weekend. Kennedi Evans had a whopping 10 blocks, which is the most by a Ute so far this season, and the second time Evans has hit double-digits in her career. Dani Drews, Kenzie Koerber and Madelyn Robinson all had double-digit kills to fuel the attack. This was an especially nice victory for Utah after dropping the game Friday night, finishing the weekend with a split against a top-20 opponent.

Up next, the Utes will play at Colorado on Friday, March 19. The Buffaloes will then visit Salt Lake City just two days later on Sunday, March 21. The top-10 Utes are hurtling towards the end of the season, and hopefully, they can build up some momentum for the homestretch. The Pac-12 is always tough, but Utah is in a prime position to finish with one of the best records in the conference with just six matches to go. Both games against Colorado will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

 

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