Beth Launiere and her No. 24-ranked volleyball team host the Utah Classic this weekend.
Sept. 5, 2006
This Week - The No. 24-ranked (CSTV/AVCA) University of Utah volleyball team (3-2 overall) hosts its home opener during its annual Utah Classic this Fri.-Sat., Sept. 8-9. The four-team, round-robin tournament includes Temple (5-2), Missouri State (5-1) and Utah State (3-2). Below is a full schedule of events for the two-day tourney.
Friday, Sept. 8
Missouri State vs. Utah State, 10 a.m.
Temple vs. Utah, Noon
Missouri State vs. Temple, 5 p.m.
Utah State vs. Utah, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9
Utah State vs. Temple, Noon Missouri State vs. Utah, 2 p.m.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On the Utah Classic: "It's important for us to get home at this point in the season and to play in front of our friends and family. Our five-match road trip was a grind but I thought it was very successful. It'll be nice to finally return home.
"All three teams coming into the tournament have some significant wins under their belts. I expect to see six very competitive matches this weekend."
On the USC Tournament: "I am pleased with where the team is at right now. But, we have to understand that this is always a work in progress and that there's going to be room for improvement. These first few matches have been good for the team. It has inspired it to practice hard and to continuously get better."
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? - Ask Utah assistant coach Heather Olmstead that question this weekend and she'd point to the Utah State bench. While Heather is an assistant coach on Utah's staff, her brother, Shawn Olmstead, is an assistant on the USU staff. The two will meet on Friday at 7 p.m., on Crimson Court. This will be the inaugural "Olmstead Bowl" as this is the first time the siblings have coached against each other.
Readers' Digest Résumé - If blood doesn't link the Utah and Utah State programs, check this. Utah assistant Burt Fuller used to be the Aggies' head coach (2001-05) while Heather Olmstead used to be USU's assistant coach (2003-05). Moreover, Olmstead was also one of the program's top players, donning the blue and white jersey from 1998-2001. She was all-conference in 2001.
Outside Shot - Outside hitter Airial Salvo continues to be a force to be reckoned with. Last weekend alone, she averaged a double-double with 4.40 kills and 5.60 digs per game. She hit .270 in receiving 30 percent (115 of 386) of the team's sets. For the season, Salvo tallies kills at a 4.76 per-game clip and averages 4.53 digs. In addition to that, her 10 aces this year account for one-third of team's total.
Building Blocks of Success - Utah's block has always been one of its strengths and it continues to be its tour de force this year. Last weekend alone, the Utes tallied 3.85 blocks per game, far better than their opponents' 2.10 average. The Crimson and White also held a 38.5-21 edge in team blocks. For the season, the Utes swat away 3.50 attempts per game and have out-blocked their rivals 59.5-40.
Emillie Toone, Version 2.0 - Outside hitter Emillie Toone continues to be the anchor of Utah's block. Last weekend, she jammed opponents for 2.10 blocks per game, upping her season average to 2.00 per game. Her numbers from last weekend were buoyed by a 12-block performance against No. 14 USC. That tied Toone's career high in blocks.
Swing and a Miss - Ute opponents hit a meager .021 in their three wins this season. The most successful opponent was Arkansas State which hit .077 in the season opener against Utah. Fresno State struggled the most, chalking up a paltry -.033 against the Utes. Overall, Utah's rivals are hitting .135, the third-best opponent average in the league.
Double Down - Airial Salvo has had a double-double in four straight matches. The string started with 19 kills and 13 digs against then-No. 5 Florida and is still intact with a 12-kill, 17-dig showing in the last match against Fresno State. In addition to Salvo's double-double string, she has had double-digit kills in each of the first five matches.
Service With a Smile - After the first two weekends of play, the Utes have nearly double the number of aces than their opponents. Utah boasts a 1.82 aces-per-game average while rivals are bagging 1.06 per game. Leading the way for Utah is the jumper service of Airial Salvo. She has 10 of the team's 31 aces.
Potent Notables - Freshmen Chelsey Sandberg and Stephanie Hodgman saw action in their first collegiate matches last weekend. Sandberg got in against North Carolina while Hodgman took the court against USC ... the Utes are 0-2 against ranked teams with 3-1 losses to No. 5 Florida and No. 14 USC ... Utah is 3-1 in games that go extra points ... Utah has out-blocked four of its five opponents this season, going 2-2 in those matches. The only team to out-block Utah was Arkansas State, 6-5 ... Utah has had double-digit blocks in four straight matches ... the team is the seventh-best blocking team among those listed in this week's top 25 ... the Utes are 3-0 in three-game matches, 0-2 in four-gamers ... this season they are 3-2 in game one, 4-1 in games two and three and 0-2 in game four.
Scouting the Opponents:
Temple - Temple enters the tournament with a 5-2 mark, winning its last two matches (3-0 vs. Rutgers, 3-1 vs. Maine). This will only be the second meeting between Utah and Temple with the Utes owning the 1-0 series lead. The Owls are led by Yue Liu and her 4.25 kills per game, while their best hitter is Christina DeMarco at .403. Maira Mogollon runs the offense in dishing out 10.64 assists per game. Defensively, Liu (3.17 digs) and Patricia Vernon (1.16 blocks) lead the team.
Utah State- The Aggies are 3-2 on the year and won in two of their last three matches. Last weekend, they fell to Oregon, 3-0, and beat Northridge, 3-1. This will be the 64th meeting between these in-state rivals with Utah holding the 40-23 series edge. Amanda Nielson's 3.60 kills leads USU while Monarisa Ale's .237 hitting is also tops. The bulk of the offense runs through Dani Schaap and her 7.75 assists per game. Defensively, Kelsi Peterson (3.94 digs) and Melissa Larson (1.12 blocks) lead USU.
Missouri State - The Bears are 5-1 on the year and are winners of four straight. Last weekend, they swept UMKC, Northwestern State and Arkansas State. MSU holds the 3-2 series lead with Utah winning last season's bout, 3-1. Leading Missouri State are Erin O'Conner (4.60 kills and .292 hitting), Katelyn Panzau (11.60 assists), Adeana McAfee (4.90 digs) and Shanda Harper (1.76 blocks).
Last Week - The Utes went 2-1 at the USC/LMU Classic in Los Angeles last weekend. They topped North Carolina (30-27, 30-23 and 30-9) and Fresno State (30-19, 30-18 and 30-17), both by a 3-0 count, and lost to No. 14 USC, 3-1 (30-25, 30-21, 30-32 and 30-24).
Utah got off to a sluggish start in the first match last weekend, hitting .094 in the first game against UNC. Utah improved over the match, as it hit .448 in game three, averaging .229 for the match. Airial Salvo's 15-kill, 18-dig outing led the Utes. On defense, Utah held the 10.5-9 edge in team blocks and forced the Tar Heels to hit a meager .026. Emillie Toone's five total blocks led the Utes.
USC's high-powered offense hit over .300 in its three wins and out-hit the Utes .245-.206. Salvo's 17 kills and 21 digs led the Utes. Utah held the 15-8 edge in blocks. Toone had 12 total blocks while Whitney Webb helped out with five.
The Utes returned to the win column against Fresno State, hitting a smooth .272 in the victory. Salvo's fourth straight double-double of 12 kills and 17 digs led the Utes again. Utah held Fresno State to -.033 hitting and out-blocked it 13-4. Lori Baird's five total blocks led the Ute defense.
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 325-189 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 have three matches within Utah's borders on the docket next week. First, they play a road match at Weber State on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Then, Mountain West Conference action launches when Colorado State comes to town on Friday, Sept. 15. Next week wraps up with Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 16.