Lacey Lavarias and the Ute volleyball team play three matches in LA this weekend.
Aug. 29, 2006
This Week - The No. 24-ranked (CSTV/AVCA) University of Utah volleyball team (1-1 overall) wraps up its season-opening five-match road swing this weekend with three matches on the docket at the USC Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif. First up is North Carolina on Friday, Sept. 1. Utah finishes out the tourney with matches against No. 14 USC on Saturday, Sept. 2, and Fresno State on Sunday, Sept. 3.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On the USC Tournament: "As was the case in Florida last week, we can't focus on just one team this weekend. We go to Los Angeles and have to play three good matches. Our job is to take one match at a time. So, right now, our focus is on the North Carolina match.
"By getting into the type of match we got into against Florida, we were able to identify right away what we have to work on. At this point in the season, it's still about us and our side of the net. Our focus is on getting better."
On the Aquafina Invitational Last Week: "Last weekend was an excellent learning experience. We couldn't have asked for a better situation.
"We had a nice opening match against Arkansas State and then we had a battle against Florida. In terms of atmosphere and competitiveness, this was a gut-check type of match. I thought our team stayed aggressive and we didn't back down from Florida. We couldn't have asked for a better match to find out what this team is made of."
She's Back! - Airial Salvo is showing that her freshman campaign was no fluke. After the first two matches of the year, the outside hitter is hitting .280 and averaging an eye-popping 5.29 kills per game. She hasn't been exclusively offensive either. Salvo is also averaging 1.0 aces per game, 3.0 digs and 0.86 blocks. Her kills- and aces-per-game average led all players at the Aquafina Invitational and currently leads the MWC.
Around the Block - Emillie Toone continued to wreak havoc on opposing offenses last weekend. Over the two-match tourney, she averaged 1.86 blocks. Last year, she was the top blocker in the conference and eighth in the nation with 1.64 blocks per game. But, she also was a factor on offense. At the Aquafina Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., last weekend, Toone led all Utes with a .375 hitting percentage and averaged 2.43 kills.
Above the Rest - Emillie Toone and Airial Salvo were named to the Aquafina Invitational all-tournament team last weekend. Salvo averaged 5.29 kills on .280 hitting while Toone led the team with 1.86 blocks and hit a team-high .375.
Diaper Dandy - Freshman Sydney Anderson stepped in at setter last weekend and led the team to a .262 hitting average. She dished out 12.83 assists in playing in six of the seven games. She also had her first career double-double in the loss to No. 5 Florida. She chalked up 56 assists and 14 digs.
Let's Play a Little Longer - Three of Utes' seven games last weekend went to extra points. Utah is now 2-1 in games that go beyond the 30-point plateau. The Utes won their first extra-point affair, topping Arkansas State, 33-31, in the third frame. Utah split extra-point games with No. 5 Florida, winning the second game, 35-33, but losing the third game, 32-30.
An Ace Up the Sleeve - One of the fundamentals Utah worked on in the offseason was serving. And it seems to have worked. The Utes racked up aces at a 2.57 per-game clip last weekend. That number is far better than the 1.33 average the team chalked up in 2005. Currently, Utah's aces-per-game average is the second best in the league.
Checking the Record Book - Shannon Krug continues to climb up Utah's career assist record book. She's ninth with 1,441 assists. Emillie Toone's 261 block assists are nine shy from cracking the all-time top 10 while her 288 total blocks are 16 shy. Connie Dangerfield has 654 digs which is 261 short of 10th all-time.
Potent Notables - Utah is 2-1 in games that go extra points ... the Utes are 0-1 against teams that are mentioned in the CSTV/AVCA top 25 ... the Utes are 1-0 when they hit better than .300 and 0-1 when their hitting lower than that ... the Utes are 1-0 in three-game matches and 0-1 in four-gamers ... Utah is 1-1 in game one, 2-0 in game two, 1-1 in game three and 0-1 in game four.
Scouting the Opponents:
North Carolina - The Tarheels and the Utes will tangle for the first time in program history. UNC enters the weekend sporting a 1-2 record. It bagged a 3-0 win over Idaho but dropped 3-0 decisions to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Leading the way for the Tarheels is Bekah Brinkley (3.11 kills per game), Christine Clark (.235 hitting), Stephanie Jansma (9.22 assists), Brianna Eskola (4.44 digs) and Amy Beaver (1.44 blocks).
USC- USC and Utah are meeting on the court for the seventh time in in the series. USC owns the 4-2 all-time series lead. The Women of Troy are the No. 14 ranked team in the nation. They enter the tournament with a 3-0 slate having beaten North Texas, UTPA and Texas State, all by a 3-0 count. USC is led by Asia Kaczor (4.67 kills per game), Bethany Johansen (.462 hitting), Taylor Carico (10.44 assists), Debora Seilhamer (7.44 digs) and Kelli Tennant (1.29 blocks).
Fresno State - The Bulldogs and Utah meet for the 12th time in program history. FSU owns the 7-4 all-time series lead. In fact, these two rivals haven't met since they were both in the WAC together back in 1998. FSU is 1-3 on the season, having beaten Pacific and losing to Santa Barbara, Kansas State and Santa Clara. Leading the Bulldogs are Alisha McKee (4.00 kills per game), Lacey Gera (.245 hitting and 6.31 assists), Cheryl Selenak (5.15 digs) and Lexi Watson (1.08 blocks).
Last Week - The Utes went 1-1 at the Aquafina Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., as they topped Arkansas State in the season-opener, 3-0, and dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 5 Florida.
Utah swept Arkansas State (30-7, 30-25, 33-31) as it out-hit the Indians, .380-.077.
Utah fought tooth and nail against Florida sending two of the four games into extra points. Florida won, 30-25, 33-35, 32-30 and 30-26.
The Gators out-hit the Utes, .232-.199. Salvo led the way, tying her career high with 19 kills. She had a double-double with 13 digs as well.
Utah held the edge at the net, 16-13, while Florida out-dug Utah, 84-79. Leading the Utes' defense was Toone with her eight total blocks. Dangerfield led the way with 19 digs.
Air Time - This fall, CSTV Networks and the Mountain West Conference kick off an unprecedented 14-year partnership designed to offer the most in-depth coverage ever centered around one Division I-A conference. The centerpiece of this historic relationship is the launch of The mtn.("the mountain")--MountainWest Sports Network. The mtn. is the first-ever Super Regional Sports Network and will serve the Mountain West Conference 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to CSTV's and the mtn.'s coverage of Utah volleyball, live audio and video of each home match is available free of charge at www.utahutes.com.
At the Helm - Beth Launiere is in her 17th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 323-188 career record. She has led her squad to NCAA Tournament appearances the last eight seasons, including a "Sweet 16" showing in 2001. Following her "Sweet 16" run, Launiere was named the 2001 Tachikara/AVCA Division I West Region Coach of the Year. Launiere's Utes have recorded 10 20-win seasons, and in 2005, Utah posted a then-school-record 12 conference victories. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Launiere graduated from Aquinas College and was an assistant at Ferris State and Illinois before taking over the Ute program in 1990.
Next Week - The Utes come home to host their season-opener on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8-9. The team hosts the Utah Classic at Crimson Court. This year, the four-team field also includes Temple, Utah State and Missouri State.