Senior libero Connie Dangerfield is in her fifth season at Utah.
Aug. 21, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- For the first time in its history, Utah was invited to participate in the 2007 AVCA College Volleyball Showcase, hosted by defending NCAA champion Nebraska, Aug. 24-25. The Utes begin the year against UCLA, then face either Tennessee or Nebraska. The game against UCLA will be televised live by CSTV.
"We're honored to be invited," head coach Beth Launiere said. "It's a showcase for the top teams in the country and it's an opportunity for us to showcase the strength of our program. We're excited to be there."
Utah Ranked 21st by AVCA
After ending the 2006 season ranked 15th, Utah opens the 2007 campaign ranked 21st in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll.
The Utes are one of two Mountain West Conference schools ranked in the poll. Brigham Young comes in at No. 17. Colorado State was listed as receiving votes.
In addition to BYU, Utah takes on four teams ranked in the preseason top 25. The Utes open the season in the AVCA Showcase on Aug. 24 against fifth-ranked UCLA. USC (Sept. 7) and Florida (Sept. 9) are sixth and seventh, respectively. Utah also plays No. 13 Purdue at the Purdue Mortar Board Tournament on Sept. 1. Other Ute opponents receiving votes are New Mexico State and Tennessee.
The End is the Beginning
Utah begins the 2007 season against the same team that ended its 2006 campaign, UCLA. In the NCAA Tournament last season, Utah fell to UCLA in three games, 30-24, 30-27, 30-26.
Utah's second-year assistant coach Burt Fuller was an assistant at UCLA for seven seasons (1994-2000), Fuller helped the Bruins to six NCAA Tournament appearances and a runner-up finish in 1994.
UCLA returns four starters and six letterwinners from last year's team that won 33 games and went to the final four. The Bruins open the season ranked fifth in the AVCA poll.
Setter Nellie Spicer, who averaged 13.66 assists per game, was a first-team All-Americcan in 2006 and is the Bruins top returning player. Other starters returning include outside hitters Ali Daley (2.92 kpg, 2.29 dpg), Rachell Johnson (2.14 kpg, 1.13 bpg) and Kaitlin Sather (2.95 kpg).
Head coach Andy Banachowski is in his 41st season at UCLA. He has a career record of 1,037-270 with three national titles.
UCLA leads the all-time series against Utah 7-1. The Utes only win of the series was a five-game win on Crimson Court in 2004.
Tennessee brings back three starters and 12 letterwinners from a 2006 squad that went 19-12 and finished third in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, the same position it was picked to finish in the SEC preseason poll
Leading the way for Tennessee is senior Yuliya Stoyanova, who averaged 4.08 kills and 2.76 digs per game last year. Juniors Mindy Flynn (2.08 kpg) and Milan Clarke (1.98 kpg) are also key to the Lady Vols attack. Rob Patrick is in his 11th-year as the head coach at Tennessee and has a 210-107 record.
Utah has faced Tennessee three times, falling in all three matches.
Nebraska claimed its third national championship in 2006, defeating Stanford in the title match to finish the year with a 33-1 record. The Huskers, ranked first by the AVCA to start the year, return six starters to this year's team and are led by All-American and Honda Award winner Sarah Pavan. The senior averaged 5.10 kills per game last season. Nebraska has four more All-Americans on the roster in senior Tracy Stalls, junior Jordan Larson, sophomore Rachel Holloway and redshirt senior Christina Houghtelling, who was the 2005 AVCA Player of the year, but missed last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Eighth-year head coach John Cook has a 220-15 record at Nebraska and a 371-87 career mark in 13 seasons.
Utah is 0-2 against Nebraska in the series.
Utah Chosen Third in MWC, Webb Preseason All-MWC
A voting panel including the nine Mountain West Conference head coaches and selected media has chosen Utah to finish third in the 2007 MWC regular season. In addition, senior outside hitter Whitney Webb has been selected to the Preseason All-MWC team.
The Utes garnered 108 points to finish third in the voting. Brigham Young was chosen as the favorite to win the title (119 points), with Colorado State (113 points) coming in second. Rounding out the top five was UNLV (88 points) and New Mexico (54 points), followed by San Diego State (sixth, 51 points), Wyoming (seventh, 50 points), TCU (eighth, 43 points) and Air Force (ninth, 14 points).
Webb, an AVCA third-team All-American in 2006, averaged 3.13 kills, 2.67 digs and 1.29 blocks per game along with a .344 hitting percentage.