Fans at Crimson Court witnessed an exciting five-game match on Friday night.
Sept. 20, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY - The fans at Crimson Court got a scare on Friday night when the University of Arkansas volleyball team won games one and two, jeopardizing Utah's 22-match home winning streak. But the Utes battled back, winning the next three games and keeping the streak alive. Utah won by the scores 26-30, 24-30, 30-22, 31-29, 15-11. The Utes started the match in a 5-1 offensive scheme, but switched to a 6-2 midway through the first game.
In game one, Arkansas jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Utes quickly tied it at six. The score then went back and forth until Utah scored three straight points to take a 14-11 lead. Again, the game remained close, with five straight ties from points 21-25. However, with the game tied at 25, Arkansas scored four straight points for 29-25 lead, and eventually won it 30-26. Utah hit for .159 compared to .220 by Arkansas on the game.
Game two was played evenly until Arkansas scored four straight point and pulled ahead 12-7. The Lady Razorbacks then led by as many as six, but Utah closed the gap to four at 21-17. Arkansas called a time out and came back to score five straight points to take a 26-17 lead. The Utes scored three in a row to cut it to 26-20, but Arkansas answered with two points of their own, making it 28-20. Utah rallied, but the comeback was cut short when sophomore Lyndsey Phillips served the ball into the net and the Lady Razorbacks won 30-24. Utah hit just .054 on the game.
Utah came out on fire in game three, jumping out 6-1 and never looking back. After the initial lead, the Utes were never ahead by less than four points the entire game and led by as many as 10. Utah hit for .541, notched 23 kills and had three service aces on the game. Junior Kim Turner finished with seven kills on the game, while senior Sylva Strzinkova had six.
In game five, Utah went up 3-0 early, but Arkansas tied it at four. The game was then tied at six when sophomore setter Tracy Neumeier served three straight points to spark the Utes. They went on to win 15-11 on a Strzinkova ace.
"Tonight was a big step for this team," Head Coach Beth Launiere said. "It was huge for us from a trust and confidence standpoint. Heading into the match, our confidence was shaky from the Weber State match. When we lost the first game, it shook our confidence even more because we haven't been able to win close games this season. After the loss in game two, I talked to them about taking it one game at a time. I told them to focus on game three. When we won game three, I told them to push into game four. Next thing you know, it's an even match. The bottom line is, we made plays when we needed to. All week long we talked about believing in this team. Tonight we did that and it paid off."
Turner led five Utes with 10 or more kills, tying a career-high 23 kills to go along with 10 digs, her fourth double-double of the season. The other Utes in double digit kills were Strzinkova, who finished with 19, sophomore Sabine Schulz with 13, Phillips with 12 and Whiting with 11. Phillips also had a career-high nine blocks, while Turner and senior Brenda Beal each had seven. Junior libero Jackie Morrill led the Utes with a season-high 15 digs. Sophomore setter Kelsie Kartchner and Neumeier split time. Kartchner finished with 41 assists, while Neumeier matched a career-high with 25.
Utah has now won 23 consecutive matches at home, dating back to the 2000 season.
UP NEXT: The Utes host Illinois for a 7:00 p.m. match tomorrow night, Sept. 21, at Crimson Court.