Utah Volleyball Splits Matches For Pac-12 Opening Weekend

The+University+of+Utah+Womens+Volleyball+takes+on+the+BYU+Cougars+at+the+Jon.+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Sept.+15+2022.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+Axe+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29%0A

Xiangyao Tang

The University of Utah Women’s Volleyball takes on the BYU Cougars at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 15 2022. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Max Lepore, Sports Writer

 

The University of Utah volleyball team competed in their first Pac-12 matches of the year over this past weekend, facing off against the Colorado Buffaloes and the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Here’s how the weekend went down.

Thursday

In the opening set, the Buffaloes and Utes traded 4-0 runs to tie up the score 4-4. Redshirt sophomore, Abby Karich collected three kills in the run to lead the Utes. The competition then tightened up, with Colorado taking a 17-13 lead later in the set. The Utes were able to eventually tie up the score at 18 apiece, but then Colorado went on a 5-2 run to take a 23-20 lead over the Utes. However, freshman Ashley West and fifth-year senior Megan Yett stepped up for the Utes to help tie up the score at 23 apiece. However, Colorado athlete Meegan Hart helped lead the Buffaloes on a 2-0 run to win the set 25-23 and to take a 1-0 match lead.

After the heartbreaking loss in the first set, Colorado opened up the second set with a strong showing. Some offensive errors for Utah contributed to a 14-4 Colorado lead. Utah did go on a run to tighten the score to 14-9, but Colorado really got in their groove and went on a 11-2 run to eventually win the set with a score of 25-11 to take a 2-0 match lead.

Hoping to push the match to a fourth set, the Utes came out in the third set fighting hard and the score was tied 8-8 early on. However, Colorado was able to go on a 5-0 run to take a 13-8 lead early on. Sophomore Lauren Jardine, junior Allie Olsen and junior Amelia Van Der Werff all contributed to a Utah fight to cut the lead to 15-12. However, Colorado then went on a 8-4 run to take a 23-16 lead, which the Utes countered with a 4-0 run to tighten the lead to 23-20. Colorado earned a kill followed by a Jardine kill, making the score 24-21. Olsen then collected a block to tighten the score even closer to 24-22. However, Colorado ended the Utes’ valiant effort with a block to win the set 25-22 and win the match 3-0.

It was a tough loss for the Utes, as two of the games were extremely close losses. The team had no choice but to wait until Saturday for a chance at redemption against the Arizona Wildcats.

Saturday

After Thursday’s loss, the Utes played their second match of the weekend at the Huntsman Center on Saturday night.

In the first set against Arizona, the Utes built up an 8-3 lead. However, Arizona was able to go on a 6-1 run to eventually tie up the score at 13 apiece. However, after a 5-1 by the Utes, the score was 18-14 and Utah didn’t look back. Jardine and freshman KJ Burgess helped the Utes build the lead to 24-17. Jardine eventually earned her sixth kill of the set and the Utes earned a 25-19 victory. Senior Emily Smith had an impressive 14 assists to lead the Utes to victory and a 1-0 match lead.

The second set saw the Utes falling behind 14-13, but they then went on a 5-0 run to take an 18-14 lead. Arizona then countered with a 4-1 run of their own to tighten Utah’s lead to just 19-18. However, Smith again stepped it up with two aces to help the Utes take a 23-18 lead late in the set. A Jardine kill pushed the Utes to set point, but Arizona then went on a clutch 5-0 run to tie the set at 24 apiece. However, the Utes then stepped up with Burgess and fifth year senior Madelyn Robinson kills to win the second set 26-24. After losing some close sets the night before, the Utes were able to make the necessary plays down the stretch to earn the victory and take a 2-0 match lead.

Hoping to finish off the match in the third set with a sweep, the Utes went on a 6-1 run to tie up the set midway through at 12 apiece. The two teams kept fighting extremely hard and eventually tied up the set 20-20. Utah then scored two points in a row to take a 22-20 lead. The Utes then earned a match point at 24-23, but a 2-0 run from the Wildcats gave them a set point of their own with a lead of 25-24. However, Robinson stepped it up with 2 kills in a row to give Utah another match point at 26-25. The Utes and Wildcats went back and forth until Utah had a 29-28 lead. Arizona then sent a ball long and Utah finally got the victory point to earn a 30-28 victory. Robinson had 10 kills in the set, an insane number to lead the Utes to the full sweep. Two nights after getting swept, the Utes bounced back in the best possible way by sweeping a conference rival.

Utah continues its Pac-12 play next week, with a trip to Los Angeles to fight the southern California Pac-12 schools UCLA and USC on Friday September 30 and Sunday Oct. 2, respectively. They will then be back for a four game homestand at the Huntsman Center starting on Oct. 7 against California.

 

[email protected]

@lepore_max