Utah won the 2010 Northwestern Challenge title Saturday after defeating the host Wildcats, 3-2.
Sept. 4, 2010
EVANSTON, Ill. - The University of Utah volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat Northwestern, 3-2 (19-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 15-12), to win the Northwestern Challenge title Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"In sets four and five, we really showed great composure," Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. "Points weren't being made by errors. Points were being earned.It was a really big team effort and sort of a coming-of-age match for us."
Utah (4-2) had three hitters with double-figures in kills, led by Northwestern Challenge Most Valuable Player Karolina Bartkowiak, who had 15 kills, four blocks and one block against the host Wildcats.
Redshirt freshman Brooke McAlister set a new career high with 15 kills and four digs.
Fisher recorded 18 digs, her eighth consecutive double-digit dig performance and the 63rd of her career.
Stephanie Neeley coordinated the Ute attack with 42 assists and 11 digs for her 17th career double-double and the third this season.
The Utes outblocked the Wildcats, 11-10. Utah's block was led by a team-high six blocks. Erin Redd was second on the squad with five blocks and also hit a season-high nine kills.
Utah fell behind 7-4 in the first set before putting together four unanswered points to assume its first lead of the set, 8-7. The teams traded possession of the lead until Northwestern went on a 4-1 run to take a 17-13 edge. Unfortunately, the Utes could not get closer than two points the rest of the way and fell 25-19. Neeley came up with 11 assists and six digs in the first set alone and Morgan Odale had six kills on a .308.
Utah fell behind 2-0 but quickly scored four points in a row to claim a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately, Northwestern came right back with a 6-1 spurt for an 8-5 lead. The Wildcats would work to extend their lead to five points, 19-14, and eventually go on to win the set, 25-19. The Ute offense was distributed evenly with three kills by Barto and two each from McAlister, Killpack, Redd and Lanting.
The fourth set went back and forth, similar to the second, with nine ties occurring before the set was knotted at 13 points apiece. From that point, Utah scored four of the next five points to take a 17-14 edge. Unfortunately, Northwestern came back to tie the set again at 17 but Utah put together another 4-1 run to take a 21-18 edge. Utah maintained its three-point edge at 24-21 before putting Northwestern away, 25-23. McAlister had five kills and Morgan Odale came up with five digs and four kills.
The action was even tighter in the fifth set and when the set was tied at nine points apiece when Utah took the next two points for a 11-9 lead and went on to the 15-12 match-clinching win. Bartkowiak had four kills and Charlee Dyroff collected five digs.
The Utes next travel to Springfield, Mo., for the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational. Utah's first match of the event is against Oklahoma on Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT.
2010 Northwestern Challenge
1. Utah: 2-1 (first due to head-to-head tiebreaker vs. Northwestern)
2. Northwestern: 2-1
3. Mississippi: 1-2 (third due to head-to-head tiebreaker vs. Morehead State)
4. Morehead State: 1-2
Morehead State: Kirstie Brangers
Mississippi: Morgan Springer
Northwestern: Sabel Moffett
Northwestern: Christina Kaelin
Utah: Morgan Odale
Utah: Keisha Fisher
MVP: Karolina Bartkowiak (Utah)