Beth Launiere announced the 2007 schedule today, one of the most competitive in program history.
May 15, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -University of Utah volleyball head coach Beth Launiere announced the team's 2007 schedule on Tuesday, and it ranks among one of the most competitive slates in program history.
"This is one of the toughest schedules a Utah volleyball team has ever faced," notes Launiere. "We've always had the philosophy in our program to play strong competition and this year is no exception. This schedule will definitely challenge us and make us better as the season progresses and prepare us well for the end of the season."
The season begins at the prestigious AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb. There, the Utes will open with perennial power UCLA and then advance to play Nebraska or Tennessee in the second round.
UCLA was the last team Utah battled in 2006 as the Bruins bumped Utah from the NCAA tournament in the second round. UCLA finished ranked No. 3 in the coach's top 25. Utah will battle the defending national champion, Nebraska, or Southeastern Conference power Tennessee in the second match.
While playing on the road is always tough, home games at venerable Crimson Court will also be challenging and exciting. Utah will host USC (Sept. 7), Florida (Sept. 9) and New Mexico State (Oct 3). Both USC and Florida made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago and finished ranked Nos. 8 and 10, respectively. NMSU completed the 2007 campaign with a No. 23 ranking.
The conference schedule is also a tough one, and home dates against Colorado State (Sept. 21) and BYU (Oct. 12) highlight the MWC portion of home matches. Colorado State got hot and the end of the 2007 campaign and upset the top-seeded Utes in the MWC Tournament last year. The Rams finished receiving votes in the final poll.
Always an exciting match, the Cougars and Utes went toe-to-toe twice last season as Utah came up on the winning end in both contests (3-1 and 3-0). BYU was ranked 16th at year's end. The Utes have chalked up wins in 11 out of the last 12 meetings with the Cougars.
Up-and-coming MWC teams like UNLV (Nov .16) and Wyoming (Oct. 26) will also visit Salt Lake City. In all there will be 12 home matches in 2007.
Other road matches include at Purdue (in the Purdue Mortar Board Tournament on Sept. 1), at BYU (Nov. 9) and at Colorado State (Oct. 20).
In all, the Utes will battle eight teams that made the 2006 NCAA Tournament (UCLA, either Nebraska or Tennessee, Purdue, USC, Florida, Colorado State, New Mexico State and Brigham Young). On top of that, four opponents on the upcoming schedule finished in the top 10 in the final coaches poll while there were a total of seven ranked in the top 25 at season's end.
Last year, the Utes finished the season 28-4 overall and with a spotless 16-0 league tally. They qualified for the NCAA tournament for the ninth consecutive year. Utah was the No. 15-ranked team when it was all said and done.