Cinthia Silva had 10 digs, seven kills and four blocks in Thursday's win over Air Force.
Sept. 17, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY - Chelsey Sandberg hit a career-high 12 kills and Cinthia Silva had 10 digs, seven kills and four blocks as the University of Utah volleyball team earned a 3-1 win (25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-14) against Air Force in its Mountain West Conference opener Thursday at Crimson Court.
Utah (7-5, 1-0 MWC) has now won 15 consecutive MWC matches dating back to Sept. 20, 2008. The Utes now own a 23-0 advantage in the all-time series with the Falcons and improved to 4-1 this season after winning the first set of a match.
As a team, Utah outhit Air Force .235 to .125 and also earned a 12-5 advantage in blocks. The Utes had seven service aces with six errors compared to nine aces and 15 errors for the Falcons.
"We're getting better at blocking," Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. "It was nice to be able to block some balls so we're getting better after each game. I was happy that McKenzie Odale was able to go in and do a nice job for us in the third set.
"We did a much better job serving tonight," Launiere said. "I was happy with the fact that our team had more service aces than errors. We missed some early on, but then we really concentrated on hitting our zones and getting our opponents out of system."
Sandberg connected on 12 kills on 23 swings for her second double-figure-kill match of the season and third of her career to go along with a pair of service aces.
Several Utes showed their versatility with a productive match in several different statistical categories. Silva had a solid all-around performance with nine digs, seven kills and four blocks. Karolina Bartkowiak also performed well, posting seven kills and six blocks. Jennifer Lanting added six kills and four blocks while Sarah Hibbert contributed six kills, three digs and three blocks.
Defensively, middle blocker Danielle Killpack led the Utes for the third time this season with six blocks. In the back row, junior libero Keisha Fisher came up with a team-high 13 digs, the sixth consecutive match in which she has reached double figures. In her fourth appearance of the season, Odale came up with her first career block during the third set.
The first set was tightly contested with seven ties before Utah distanced itself with a 4-0 spurt to take a 17-13 advantage. The Falcons would get to within two points but Utah would go on to win the opening set, 25-20. Four different Utes, Sandberg, Killpack, Bartkowiak and Lanting, each had at least two kills in the set with Sandberg and Bartkowiak leading the way at three apiece. The Utes outhit the Falcons .242 to .161 and also earned a slight 2-1 edge in team blocks.
Utah gained a two-point edge at 3-1 to start the second set and would maintain its slight lead before scoring six of the next seven points to assume a 13-7 lead. Bartkowiak led the charge with three kills on the Ute attack. The Utes maintained their five-point lead en route to their second 25-20 win of the match. Utah held a .258-.200 edge in hitting during the set and outblocked Air Force, 3-1. Sandberg came up with three kills and three blocks while Bartkowiak had three kills and three digs. Fisher had four digs from the back row for the Ute defense.
Air Force took five of the first six points in the third set before a 7-0 Utah run, which included a pair of aces from Sandberg, put the Utes ahead 8-5. The Falcons fought back to tie the set at 11 points apiece but Utah put together four unanswered points to take a 15-11 lead, but Air Force managed to tie the set once again at 18. There were two more ties in the set but Air Force was able to score consecutive points to gain a two-point lead and eventually took a 25-23 third-set victory, the first set victory for the Falcons in the series since Utah came away with a 3-1 win on Oct. 15, 2005 in Salt Lake City. Sandberg pounded down four kills on just five swings for an .800 hitting percentage in the set and also came up with three blocks. The Falcons hit for a .188 mark in the set, compared to a .077 clip for the Utes. Utah did manage a 4-3 edge in blocks.
The two sides traded points until the fourth set was tied at 10 points then the Utes mustered four consecutive points to take a 14-10 edge. Sandberg's 11th kill of the match gave Utah a seven-point lead at 20-13 before the Utes clinched the match with a 25-14 fourth-set victory. Silva slammed down four kills on six swings for a .667 hitting percentage and also came up with four digs in the final set.
Air Force (8-5, 0-1 MWC) was led by a double-double performance from Caroline Kurtz, who registered 15 kills and 10 digs. Setter Jessica Hellmann distributed 39 assists and Maiya Perich came up with a team-high 13 digs.
The Utes continue their MWC slate against San Diego State Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. CBS College Sports will air a tape-delayed broadcast of the match Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. MT.