Katrena Ellett and the women's volleyball team host Utah State this Saturday at 7 p.m.
Sept. 7, 2004
What's On Tap?
The University of Utah women's volleyball team gets a bit of a reprieve after starting the season off with five matches in seven days. The Utes have one match left on the docket this week. On Saturday, Sept. 11 Utah will host intrastate rival Utah State. Match time on Crimson Court is set for 7 p.m.
Scouting The Opposition:
Utah State owns an 0-3 record entering action this week. The Aggies will play at Idaho State on Tuesday, Sept. 8 before taking on the Utes. They lost to No. 6 Stanford, Nevada and St. Mary's to open the season. Zuzana Cernianska leads the team in kills per game (4.90) and attack percentage (.284). She ranks third in the Big West in kills. Erin Graybill's 1.14 blocks per game leads all Aggies while Dominique Arsenault is the top setter (10.0 sets/game) and Kelsi Thoman owns a team-high 4.0 digs/game. USU was picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll of Big West Coaches. It is coached by Burt Fuller who begins his fourth season at the helm. He has led the Aggies to a 52-42 mark during his tenure.
The Utes will be taking on their third straight Big West rival when it hosts Utah State, having squared off against Long Beach State and UC Irvine over the Labor Day Weekend. Utah is 38-23 all-time against Utah State and dropped three straight games to the Aggies in Logan last season, 3-0. Utah is 49-53 all-time against current Big West schools, including going 0-2 in last week's matches.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere--
On Utah State: "Anytime we play Utah State, it's a competitive environment and a tough match. Recent history has the home team winning each match so I'm glad we're at home. But, Utah State is a talented and aggressive team and I know we have to be ready to play when we face it."
On last week: "Playing a lot of matches to start the season was good for us. We got the chance to see what it is this team needs to work on.
"Our first three matches we got to play a lot of different people and saw some good things from them. As far as Long Beach State and UC Irvine, I'd take my team and play them again. Those programs are similar to Mountain West Conference teams and were good matches to get into early in the season. It was good preparation for us and will only help us reach our goal of winning the conference title."
The Utes rattled off three straight wins to go 3-0 before dropping their first matches to Long Beach State and UC Irvine. Utah got off to a good start by topping Utah Valley State, 3-0, thanks in part to 19.5 team blocks. The Utes out hit the Wolverines .301-.034 and were led by Lyndsey Henderson with her nine kills and 10 blocks.
Utah racked up two more wins in back-to-back matches with Liberty (3-0) and George Washington (3-1). The Utes tallied 17.5 blocks to Liberty's 1.0 and hit .383, recording only four hitting errors for the match. Amie Toone, who hit .636 for the match, led Utah with seven kills and eight blocks. Blocking continued to shine as Utah edged GW at the net, 12-6. Three Utes tallied double-digit kills led by Kelsie Kartchner's double-double of 16 kills and 25 assists.
Long Beach State spread its attack among four hitters and out blocked the Utes in rallying from a game-one, extra-point loss to take the match. LBSU racked up 13 team blocks (20 of them block assists) to Utah's seven and out hit the Utes, .250-.209. Shelly Sommerfeldt's 16 kills led the Utes.
Utah rallied from an 0-2 deficit against UC Irvine but came up short in the fifth as the Utes lost their second straight match, 3-2. Sommerfeldt and Henderson led the attack with 19 and 17 kills, respectively. The Utes out blocked the Anteaters, 15.0-9.0, and were led by Henderson who nearly tallied a double-double with nine block assists.
The "Toone" Network:
Amie Toone has had a stellar start to the 2004 season. The sophomore middle blocker has played in all but two games and leads the team with a .400 hitting percentage. She has tallied 30 kills on 60 attempts while committing only six errors. Moreover, she is second on the team with 24 blocks (1.41/game). Last week, Toone tallied career highs with 11 kills (vs. George Washington), eight blocks (vs. Liberty) and a .688 hitting percentage (vs. George Washington).
The Utes have convincingly out blocked four of their first five opponents. Utah nearly set a three-game match record for blocks in the season opener, stymieing the Utah Valley State offense with 19.5 team blocks. UVSC finished with six. The Utes also topped Liberty (17.5-1.0), George Washington (12.0-6.0) and UC Irvine (15.0-9.0) in the blocks department. Utah's 4.0 blocks per game and .102 opponent hitting percentage are tops in the conference.
Three of the top ten blockers in the Mountain West Conference are Utes, averaging more than one block per game. Entering action on Monday, Lyndsey Henderson was tops with 2.0 blocks per game. Also in the top ten are Kelsie Kartchner (ninth, 1.29 blocks per game) and freshman Emillie Toone (10th, 1.09).
An Ace In The Hole:
Danielle Leichliter racked up 13 aces in the five matches last week. The junior outside hitter tied a career high with four aces in both the UVSC and Long Beach State matches. She averages 0.72 aces per game, tops in the conference. As a team, Utah's 2.64 aces per game is also tops in the Mountain West.
A Force at the Net:
Lyndsey Henderson is a major reason why Utah's blocking has been so strong in the early season. The 6-5 middle blocker tallied 35 total blocks (six solo) and is averaging 1.94 blocks per game. Henderson collected a career-high tying 10 blocks against Utah Valley State, nine versus UC Irvine and eight against George Washington. Entering the UCI game, Henderson was tops in the conference in blocks per game (2.0).
A Hit Parade:
The Utes got off to a fast start this year, hitting .335 in their first three matches of the season. That includes hitting .383 (35-4-81) against Liberty in which all four errors came in the third and final game. While Utah's hitting cooled off in its last two matches, it is still hitting .281 for the season, the second best mark in the conference. Wyoming is tops, hitting a swift .300.
At the Helm:
Beth Launiere begins her 15th season as the mentor of the Utah women's volleyball program. She owns a 278-173 all-time record. She has led her squad to NCAA Tournament appearances the last six seasons, including a "Sweet 16" showing in 2001. Following the "Sweet 16" showing, Launiere was named the 2001 Tachikara/AVCA Division I West Region Coach of the Year. Launiere's Utes have recorded nine 20-win seasons, and last year, Utah posted a 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.
On the Air:
Radio broadcasts and live video streaming of home volleyball games will be available on the Internet at the official athletics Web site, www.UtahUtes.com. In addition, the Nov. 13 home match against Colorado State will be televised on College Sports TV (CSTV). It will air on tape delay on Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m. (MST). Check with your local cable or satellite provider for more information on CSTV.
The Utes return to the court to host the Hampton Inn Utah Classic on Fri.-Sat, Sept. 17-18. The four-match classic includes No. 3-ranked UCLA, Northern Colorado and Saint Mary's. Utah takes on UCLA on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m., and plays Northern Colorado and Saint Mary's on Sept. 18. The Utes host UNC at noon and St. Mary's at 7 p.m. Utah will pack its bags for its first conference tilt on Sept. 24 when the Utes will play at BYU and remain on the road for a match at Weber State (Sept. 28).