Utah Volleyball Gears Up for Huge Match Against Washington State

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U of U Volleyball’s Junior Setter, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres (#9), in the game vs the Stanford Cardinals on Mar. 5, 2021 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on campus. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

The University of Utah volleyball team is preparing for a huge weekend match against the Washington State Cougars. Utah is ranked at No. 12, while Washington State comes in at No.13. This match will have huge implications, not only for the Pac-12 Tournament but the seeding in the NCAA Tournament as well.

The Cougars are currently sitting at 10-2 in Pac-12 play. Utah is 12-4, basically needing to run the table for a chance at the 1 seed. There was originally supposed to be two games played this weekend between the two teams, but the Friday match was canceled due to contact tracing within the Washington State program while the match on Sunday is still scheduled to be played. Having two opportunities to close in on the Cougars in the standings would have been nice, but now the Utes will only get one crack at it.

Washington and Oregon are also threatening Utah in the standings, sitting at 13-3 and 11-3 respectively. These last two weekends of play will go a long way towards determining who will ultimately get the top spot.

Washington State is a very good team and this will be a test for Utah. The two have not played yet this season. The last meeting between the two teams was in November of 2019, when Utah won 3-1. Utah leads the all-time series 3-2.

The Utes are coming off a victory, 3-0, against the Colorado Buffaloes. That win was after a disappointing loss to Colorado in Boulder — Utah’s worst loss of the season given Colorado’s standing as a mid-tier Pac-12 team. Ultimately, dropping that game may well be the difference for Utah in terms of seeding, and will force them to play a tougher slate in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Utah is undefeated at home this season, a perfect 7-0. They’ll look to keep that streak intact during what is probably their toughest game of the year.

This has been a successful season for the Utes, and expectations are high as they hurtle towards the postseason. A win on Sunday would be great for the standings and for team morale going into the home stretch. They have a real chance to do some damage not only in the Pac-12 Tournament but also make a nice run in the NCAA Tournament.

The first match between the two teams has been canceled due to COVID protocols within the WSU program. The Utes will face the Cougars at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. That will be senior day, the last home game of the year. They then hit the road to take on the Oregon State Beavers for two matches next weekend to wrap up the regular season.

 

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