Utah volleyball plays three matches this week, including two home matches this weekend.
Oct. 2, 2006
This Week - The No. 16-ranked University of Utah volleyball team (12-2, 5-0 Mountain West Conference) plays three matches this week. First, it steps out of league play to battle Idaho State on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Conference action continues when Utah returns home to host New Mexico on Friday, Oct. 6, and TCU on Saturday, Oct. 7. All home matches are played at Crimson Court, located on the lower level of HPER-East, Room 101.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week: "I feel that we have to focus on Idaho State. Any time you go on the road to play a match, you have to prepare yourself that much more.
"Both TCU and New Mexico have been playing a lot better the last few weeks. All of the Mountain West Conference teams are strong and we're all very competitive. We have to go out there and be ready to play and compete this weekend."
On the First Half of the Season: "I'm pleased with where the team is at right now. We are making progress every week and I think we continue to execute at a higher level each match. While we're starting to meet a lot of our statistical goals, there are still some areas where we need to get better. But, overall, I'm pleased with our progress so far."
"Kat-Astrophe" - Kathryn Lovell has upped her game the last three weeks, causing havoc on opponents. Heading into the Weber State match back on Sept. 12, Lovell was hitting a mere .166 in averaging 2.91 kills per game. In the five matches after the Weber State affair, Lovell is hitting .286 and netting 3.76 kills per game. During her impressive run, she has been in double-digit kills in four of the five matches and hit an impressive .545 (13-1-22) against San Diego State.
"Airial" Supply - Outside hitter Airial Salvo has tightened up her game since the conference season rolled around. She is hitting 40 points better against conference foes than she is on the season. Against MWC rivals, Salvo is hitting .337, bagging 4.18 kills per game and 3.29 digs. However, on the entire year, Salvo is collecting kills at a .292 clip. She is averaging 4.20 kills per game and 3.98 digs.
Ready for the Big Finish - Talk about ending on a high note, the Utes hit an impressive .594 in the fourth and final game against BYU. They tallied 20 kills on 32 swings, only committing one error. That was an impressive rebound considering the team hit a meager .152 (14-7-46) in the game-three loss.
Syd Vicious - Freshman setter Sydney Anderson stepped in and guided Utah to one of its biggest wins of the season thus far. Against the No. 16-ranked BYU Cougars, she tallied her third straight double-double, the fourth of her career, in recording a career-high 57 assists and 13 digs. Moreover, she chipped in on offense, hitting .750 by collecting a career-high six kills on eight tries.
Traversing the World Wide "Webb" - Whitney Webb has been on fire in the last two matches. She has led the team in hitting (.415) and has an impressive 4.00 kills per game. But, she has been a defensive force too. Webb has been tallying 2.14 digs per game and 1.29 blocks in the last two matches. Among her impressive numbers was a career-high 17 kills in the win over No. 16 BYU. For the season, Webb averages 2.69 kills, 2.36 digs and 1.36 blocks. She is currently hitting .307.
We're on a Roll - The Utes are currently on a 10-match winning streak. That's a lot of wins to string together at once but it's not the longest. The longest winning streak in program history was 12 matches, back in 2004. Utah went unbeaten from Sept. 11 to Oct. 16, 2004. This week, Utah has three matches on tap against Idaho State (Tuesday), New Mexico (Friday) and TCU (Saturday). Two of this week's matches are at home where Utah is 5-0 on the season.
National Rankings - In the national rankings through Sept. 17, Emillie Toone is the No. 1 blocker (2.12 bpg) in the nation and 25th in hitting (.398). Meanwhile, the team ranks first in blocks per game (3.88), 14th in hitting (.290), 19th in assists (15.10), 24th in kills (16.33) and 26th in win-loss percentage (.846).
Potent Notables - The Utes are 1-2 against nationally ranked teams this season. They beat then-No. 16 BYU, 3-1, and lost to then-No. 5 Florida and then-No. 14 USC also by 3-1 counts ... Connie Dangerfield had 20 digs against BYU. It was the third 20-dig match by a Ute this season, the first for Dangerfield. Airial Salvo had a pair 21-dig matches (versus UNLV and USC) earlier this season ... with the 20 digs last week, Dangerfield passed the 800 career dig mark. She now has 814 ... Utah has hit better than .300 in three of the last four matches. It topped the plateau against Air Force (.429), San Diego State (.442) and BYU (.315). The only team to hold Utah below the .300 mark was UNLV (.244) ... the Utes have hit better than .300 in seven matches, going 7-0. They have broken the .400 barrier twice (versus Air Force, .429; and San Diego State, .442) ... only Florida recorded double-digit team blocks against Utah this season. On the flip side, only Arkansas State and San Diego State have held Utah under 10 team blocks. Utah has out-blocked its rivals this season, 173.5-99.5 ... the 72 kills the team racked up against No.16 BYU were a season high ... Utah is 10-0 in three-game matches and 2-2 in four-game matches ... the Utes are 12-2 in games one, two and three, respectively, and 2-2 in game four. They have not played a five-game match yet this season.
Scouting the Opponents: Idaho State - The Bengals own a 7-11 overall record and enter the mid-week match having lost two of their last three. Last weekend, they lost to Portland State, 3-0, but beat Weber State, 3-1. This is the 37th meeting in the series in which Utah leads, 26-10. The two last met in 2005 when Utah got the season-opening 3-0 win in Salt Lake City. Leading ISU are Nikki Havens (3.44 kills, .252 hitting), Christine Collette (8.67 assists), Bri Beal (4.66 digs) and Karli Maughan (0.87 blocks).
New Mexico - The Lobos bring a 6-10 overall mark and a 2-3 MWC record into action this week. They are currently tied for sixth in the conference. They come into the week having won in two of their last three. They beat San Diego State, 3-0, but fell to UNLV, 3-2. This is the 63rd meeting between Utah and New Mexico with Utah holding the 35-27 series lead. The two split the series last year as New Mexico got a five-game win at home and Utah won in four on its court. Pacing the Lobos are Jeanne Fairchild (3.02 kills), Kelly Therkelsen (.218 hitting), Jennifer Heasty (10.32 assists), Gayle Tripp (4.57 digs) and Allison Suiter (1.12 blocks).
TCU - The Horned Frogs are 14-4 overall and 3-2 in league play. They are currently in a tie for third place in the conference, having lost in two of their last three. Last weekend, they lost to UNLV, 3-0, but beat San Diego State, 3-0. Utah is 5-0 all-time against TCU. Last year, Utah topped TCU 3-1 in Salt Lake City and 3-0 in Fort Worth, Texas. Leading the team are Anna Vaughn (3.79 kills, .349 hitting), Nirelle Hampton (10.94 assists), Calli Corley (4.61 digs) and Kourtney Edwards (1.13 blocks).
Last Week - The Utes scored an upset when they beat their in-state rival, No. 16 BYU, in four games (30-24, 30-28, 21-30, 30-18).
The Utes finished the match hitting .594 as they had 20 kills on 32 attempts and one error. For the match, Utah hit .315 as Kathryn Lovell's 18 kills led way. Whitney Webb hit a team-best .382 and trailed Lovell with an impressive 17 kills. They were just two of four Utes to record double-digit kill outings.
Defensively, Utah held the 10.5-7 edge in team blocks. Lori Baird's six blocks led the way as Webb finished with five total blocks. Utah held the Cougars to a mere .195 hitting percentage.
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. Utah will be featured on The mtn. on Sunday, Oct. 22, when it hosts UNLV. That match will start at 4 p.m. It will be televised on delay at 7 p.m. Check local listings for future replay times. In addition, to regular season matches, the entire Mountain West Conference will be televised between The mtn. and CSTV.
In addition to CSTV's and the mtn.'s coverage of Utah volleyball, live audio and video of each home match is available for a nominal charge at www.utahutes.com.
At the Helm - Beth Launiere is in her 17th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 334-189 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.
Upcoming - Utah hosts UVSC on Oct. 10 before venturing to Wyoming on Oct. 14. The Utes return home for a three-match homestand as they will host San Diego State (Oct. 20), UNLV (Oct. 22) and Brigham Young (Oct. 27). The UNLV match will be televised on tape delay on The mtn.