Utah Volleyball’s Beth Launiere Gets 600th Win as Coach of the Utes

University+of+Utah+junior+Saige+Ka%27aha%27aina-Torres+%289%29+sets+up+redshirt+sophomore+Kennedi+Evans+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 junior Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres (9) sets up redshirt sophomore Kennedi Evans 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 No. 11 University of Utah volleyball team split a weekend series against the Colorado Buffaloes, losing one on the road and winning one at home. With only a few games left in the regular season, Utah is hoping to grab as much momentum as they can heading into the final stretch.

In their first match of the weekend, Utah had somewhat of a disappointing performance. Colorado came into the weekend at 5-9, but managed to grab a win on Thursday evening. It was a tight match that went to five sets. They went back and forth, Utah grabbing the first and third sets, Colorado winning the second and fourth. Ultimately, the Utes fell just shy of a victory in Boulder, losing set five by a score of 13-15. Colorado had played spoiler before this season, beating No. 12 UCLA 3-1 on March 7. They pulled it off again here, beating another top-20 team in the Utes. 

On Sunday, it was a different story for Utah. They were dominant and played together, winning in three sets to grab head coach Beth Launiere her 600th victory in her 31-year career. 

The teams played each other very tightly in the first set, where everything was tied up at 13-13 about halfway through. Following a stoppage in play, the Utes began to play much better, jumping out to a 20-15 lead. They eventually ended up grabbing the victory in the first set, 25-18.

Set two started better for Utah, as they took a 13-7 lead early. Utah looked decisive and quick as they dominated set two, winning 25-16 in short order. 

However, the Buffaloes came out with some urgency in the third set, jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead. Colorado led 12-7 before a quick burst from Utah brought them within one point, 13-12, prompting a timeout from the Buffaloes. Another run put them in front, 19-16, forcing another timeout from Colorado, as they were in danger of being swept at the Huntsman. A final review on the match point delayed the inevitable, and Utah was able to right their wrong from Thursday evening, winning over Colorado in three sets. 

Launiere grabbing her 600th win was surely a motivating factor for the Utes, as they closed this one out quickly on Sunday afternoon. 

“I’m proud of the longevity that I’ve been able to sustain. Each milestone is nice to celebrate, but honestly, the best thing about today was getting a 3-0 win against Colorado,” Launiere said. “I always take a little time to celebrate these things.”

Utah’s bench was particularly vocal today, cheering for teammates as the Utes cruised to victory.

“It changes the whole dynamic of a sporting event,” Launiere said. “You have to be driven as a competitor to put yourself on the court and compete against someone and see if you can beat someone… We talk about that a lot; it can get really quiet sometimes, but that really helps.”

With the victory, Utah moves to 12-4 as they enter the final few weeks of the regular season. They’ll face Washington State at home twice next weekend before hitting the road to Oregon State to take on the Beavers. They’ll look to finish off the season strong before the NCAA Tournament in mid-April.

“Every match is pretty important at this point, we’re borderline, still have a chance at winning the Pac-12 tournament,” Launiere said. “Washington State comes in next weekend, there’s gonna be a lot on the line for the Pac-12 and trying to get a seed in the NCAA tournament.”

 

[email protected]

@e_pearce_