The Utah volleyball team has four matches on the road this week.
Sept. 4, 2005
This Week: The University of Utah volleyball team (2-2 overall) will play four road matches this week as it wraps up a six-match road swing. Up first are the Utah State Aggies in Logan, Utah, on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The Utes will then venture to Springfield, Mo., to participate in the Results Advertising Missouri State Classic. Utah plays Iowa State on Friday, Sept. 9, and Arkansas and Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week: "These are going to be four very tough matches this week and we have to find a way to win against good teams.
"Utah State always plays us tough and it's going to be a good match. The Aggies are an experienced team and we have to go up there prepared to play.
"I'm also excited to play three matches this weekend. We are a young team and we need to play and get as much experience as we can."
On Last Week: "We came up against some very good, athletic teams last week. We improved each time we played and that's what we need to do with a young team.
"We actually played well last week. I know some of the scores don't reflect that but I'm happy with the progress that the team has made."
Scouting the Opponent:
Utah State - The Aggies are 4-2 on the season and have lost two straight, dropping five-game decisions in both outings. Utah leads the all-time series with the Aggies, 39-23. Zuzana Cernianska is tops with 5.25 kills per game. Diminique Arsenault has 9.43 assists per game while Kelsi Peterson leads with 3.48 digs and Erin Graybill with 1.40 blocks.
Iowa State - Iowa State enters action this week 5-1 overall, having lost to Stephen F. Austin in its last outing, 3-0. Utah and ISU have tangled twice before with the series tied at 1-1. Katie Jessen leads the team with 4.79 kills per game. Also leading the team are: Amanda Craig (13.79 assists); Katie Churm (5.86 digs); and Erin Boeve (1.86 blocks).
Arkansas - The Lady Razorbacks are 4-1 this season and will meet Utah for the second time. UA owns the 1-0 series lead. Koleva Denitza leads with 3.95 kills per game while Iva Docekalova and Nicole Martin both set the attack with 6.95 and 6.16 assists per game, respectively. Ashley Miller has a team-best 4.26 digs while Amy Allison leads with 1.88 blocks.
Missouri State - The Bears, formerly Southwest Missouri State, are 2-4 on the year. MSU leads in the all-time series, winning in three of the four meetings. Katie Werges leads the team with 4.25 kills per game. Other team leaders include Ashley Warren (12.15 assists), Katie Kreimer (3.30 digs) and Sabrina Apker (1.50 blocks).
Weekend Recap: The Utes went 1-2 in action last week. They topped Weber State, 3-0, but fell to No. 21 Missouri and No. 9 Tennessee. Both match scores were 3-0.
Utah had to fend off a pesky Weber State squad (30-24, 32-30, 30-24) as it battled back and fourth to win all three games. However, the younger Utes were challenged when it came to battling the first ranked teams of the year. The experienced and athletic Missouri (30-28, 30-22, 30-21) and Tennessee (30-23, 30-22, 30-26) squads held the advantage in sweeping their Utah rivals at the Tiger Invitational.
Airial Salvo led the way in netting 3.11 kills per game. She led the Utes in kills in two of the three matches last week. Lori Baird hit a team-best .280 and hit a team-high .357 against Tennessee. Shannon Krug led with 8.67 assists last week while Kate Robison's 2.75 digs was also tops.
Head of the Class: The freshman class hasn't had much time to act like freshmen this season. The four newcomers have been relied upon to be big contributors and they've come through. The top-three attackers are all rookies with Airial Salvo leading the way with 3.58 kills per game. Classmate Kathryn Lovell is second with 2.89 kills while Lori Baird is third at 2.75 kills. Moreover, freshman Shannon Krug has stepped in to set the attack, averaging a team-best 10.08 assists per game.
Making Some Noise: Airial Salvo has stepped in and made her presence felt in only the first four matches of the season. The rated rookie has lead the Utes in three of the first four matches in kills. She has had double-digit kills in three matches, including a career-high 15 in the season opener against Idaho State. She also has two double-doubles to her credit (15k, 11d vs. Idaho State; 10k, 10d vs. Weber State). Salvo even won this season's first Mountain West Conference Player of the Week award last week.
Welcome Back: Seniors Shelly Sommerfeldt and Danielle Leichliter returned to action last week after nursing some preseason injuries. Sommerfeldt returned from an ab strain to play against No. 9 Tennessee. She led the team in both kills (nine) and digs (11) in her return. Leichliter returned to play against No. 21 Missouri and the Lady Vols. She played in the back row and averaged 2.33 digs per game, including a season-high eight against Mizzou.
Dangerous Duo: The lanky duo of Emillie Toone and Lori Baird have been doing their jobs to make attacking a challenge for their opponents. Toone stands at 6-7 and has jammed her opponents to the tune of 1.33 blocks per game. Not to be outdone, the 6-2 Baird swats away 1.22 blocks per game. Looking at raw numbers, the tandem has 23 of the team's 32 total blocks thus far.
News and Notes: The Utes are 0-2 against opponents mentioned in the CSTV/AVCA coaches poll. Utah dropped 3-0 decisions to No. 21 Missouri and No. 9 Tennessee ... Utah only lost three games last year by a 3-0 count. This year, it has lost two ... Whitney Webb led the team in digs against Missouri, collecting a career-high eight ... Airial Salvo has seven of the team's 20 service aces. She leads the team with 0.58 per game ... three of the four freshmen have played in all 12 games thus far ... the Utes began the 2005 season receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll ... Utah was picked to finish second in the MWC preseason coaches poll. It received three first-place votes and finished two points behind the preseason favorite, Brigham Young.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah head coach. She has a 301-180 career record. She has led her squad to NCAA Tournament appearances the last seven seasons, including a "Sweet 16" showing in 2001. Following her "Sweet 16" run, Launiere was named the 2001Tachikara/AVCA Division I West Region Coach of the Year. Launiere's Utes have recorded nine 20-win seasons, and last year, 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.
See Red: There are 12 home matches at Crimson Court this year. To see some of the best volleyball in the nation, contact the Utah ticket office at (801) 581-UTIX or by visiting www.UtahTickets.com.
On the Air: Fans can follow the Utes on the internet this season. By going to volleyball Web page at www.utahutes.com, you can watch and listen to Utah matches as they are streamed live across the Web. In addition to the internet, the Sunday, Nov. 9, match at Colorado State will be televised live on CSTV as part of its Sunday Night Spikes programming.
Up Next: Utah will play host to three matches in the Hampton Inn Utah Classic from Sept. 15-17. The Utes get things started on Thursday, Sept. 15, when they host Idaho. Idaho and Santa Clara will do battle on Friday, Sept. 16, while Santa Clara and Utah will meet on Saturday, Sept. 17. All three matches are at Crimson Court and will start at 7 p.m.