Emillie Toone and the Utah volleyball have two road matches on tap this weekend.
Oct. 3, 2005
This Week: The University of Utah volleyball team (10-5 overall, 2-2 Mountain West) embarks on one of its last three road trips of the regular season. This weekend, the Utes will play at Wyoming on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. The two-match road swing comes to an end at Colorado State on Sunday, Oct. 9. The match with the Rams begins at 4 p.m., and will be televised nationally on CSTV as part of its Sunday Night Spikes programming.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week - "These two upcoming matches this weekend are going to be battles. This is one of the most difficult road trips in the conference in terms of the quality of opponents. Wyoming and Colorado State are competing hard and they are two tough teams that play very well at home."
On Halfway Through the Season - "Every experience is new for us. We're not a veteran-savvy team. But, we've learned a lot in the first half of the season and I'm looking forward to what we can do in the second half."
A Grand Adventure - Shelly Sommerfeldt knocked down her 1,000th career kill last week. She went into the two matches with 988 career kills and reached the coveted plateau on tallying 16 in the loss to BYU on Wednesday, Sept. 28. For the week, she recorded 30 kills and now has 1,018 career kills. She ranks ninth in Utah's annals for kills and needs 37 kills to pass Sheila Cottrell-Sorensen in the record book. Sommerfeldt is the ninth Ute to tally 1,000 career kills.
Are You Diggin' This? - Kate Robison has taken over the libero position with reigning MWC Libero of the Year Connie Dangerfield redshirting this season. Robison averaged 3.00 digs per game last week. That includes a career-best 17 in the win over TCU. She averages 3.10 digs per game for the season but sees that average bump up to 3.45 in conference only matches. Danielle Leichliter, Lacey Lavarias and Whitney Webb have also taken the court as the team's libero this year.
Passing the Torch - Senior outside hitter Shelly Sommerfeldt and freshman outside hitter Airial Salvo are proving to be a dangerous duo for opposing defenses. Sommerfeldt is tops on the team with 3.53 kills per game (hitting .224) while Salvo adds another 3.11 (on .261 hitting). The duo accounts for 41 percent of the team's kills and are hitting .241 for the season.
Major Blockage - Four Utes rate in the top 25 in the conference in blocking. Emillie Toone (1.28) and Lori Baird (1.26) are fourth and fifth, respectively, while Shelly Sommerfeldt and Airial Salvo check in at Nos. 19 and 20. Sommerfeldt averages 0.87 blocks per game while Salvo 0.85. Utah's four ranked blockers are the second most by any league school. Colorado State leads the way with six top-25 blockers.
Keepin' It on the D-L - Senior outside hitter Danielle Leichliter had a stellar outing in the win over TCU. She had a season-best 13 kills in the four-game win and also hit a team- and season-high .357. She only had three errors on 28 swings for the evening.
Finding Middle Ground - Middle blockers Emillie Toone and Lori Baird are ranking among the top tandems in the conference. At 6-7, Toone is averaging 1.28 blocks and the 6-2 Baird is jamming opponents to the tune of 1.26 blocks per game. The two have 136 of the team's 192 total blocks which accounts for 71 percent of the squad's total blocks.
Now Serving - Serving has been an issue with Utah this season. In all 15 matches thus far, the Utes have chalked up more service errors than its opponents. But, Utah still hold the 1.3-1.2 edge in service aces per game. However, opponents have recorded 18 aces in the last three matches to Utah's eight. The team goal versus TCU was to keep service errors under three per game. Utah netted 12 such errors in the four-game match (three per game).
On the Defense - The Utes continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the conference, a carryover from last season's squad. Utah is second in the league in blocks (3.26 per game) and first in opponent hitting percentage (.154). Utah came off of one of its best defensive efforts against TCU. In the last match, it held the Horned Frogs to a .069 hitting percentage and out-blocked them 14.5-6. The .069 average was the second lowest for an opponent this season while the plus-8.5 block margin was the largest this year.
News and Notes: Lori Baird and Airial Salvo set new marks last week. Baird tallied a career-high 14 kills against BYU while Salvo had a career high in blocks (seven) and digs (15) against the Cougars ... the Utes are making their fifth appearance on CSTV this weekend. They are 2-2 having lost two to Colorado State and winning two MWC Tournament matches last year ... Utah has beat all six State schools on its docket. It has topped Idaho State, Weber State, Utah State, Iowa State, Missouri State and Utah Valley State. The Utes still have to play Colorado State and San Diego State twice this year ... the Utes have out-blocked all but one opponent this season. BYU was the first team to hold the edge at the net over the Utes, 14-12 ... Utah has hit better than .200 in seven of the last eight matches. They saw a string of six straight .200 matches come to an end when BYU held the Utes to a .193 average. Utah is 9-1 when it hits .200 this year. Its opponents are 4-1 when they hit .200. Only Santa Clara broke the .200 barrier against the Utes and still lost ... Utah is 1-3 against ranked teams this year. The lone win was a 3-2 victory over No. 17 Santa Clara. It lost to No. 20 BYU (3-1), and to No. 21 Missouri (3-0) and No. 9 Tennessee (3-0) ... the team is 5-0 at home but 5-5 when it leaves Crimson Court ... the Utes have four come-from-behind wins this season (Iowa State, Missouri State, Santa Clara and TCU) ... the Utes are 3-2 in three-gamers, 5-1 in four-game matches, and 2-2 in five-game affairs ... this season, Utah is 1-2 in extra-point games ... the Utes began the 2005 season receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Polls. They have received votes in three polls this season ... 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.
Weekend Recap: The Utes split two conference matches as it dropped a four-game match at No. 20 BYU and topped TCU at home, 3-1.
The Utes snagged game one from the BYU Cougars and hung with them until 27-27 of the second game. However, the Cougars rallied to win the last three games in grabbing the victory. They out-hit Utah, .230-.193, and held the edge in team blocks, 14-12.
It was the exact opposite against TCU as Utah dropped game one to the Horned Frogs. However, Utah held TCU to a .069 hitting percentage and out-blocked it, 14.5-6, en route to the four-game win.
Shelly Sommerfeldt led the way last week with 16 kills in the loss to BYU and with 14 kills in the win over the Horned Frogs. For the week, she tallied a team-best 3.75 kills per game while scooping up a team-high 3.25 digs. Lori Baird hit a team-best .298 for the week and averaged 3.00 kills per game.
Scouting This Week's Opponents:
Wyoming - The Cowgirls enter the week 5-7 overall and 0-3 in the conference. Utah swept UW last year, winning 3-1 and 3-0 matches, and owns the all-time series lead, 32-23. Wyoming is led by Rachel Smith and her 3.40 kills per game while Lauren Scott is the team's best hitter (.247). Tasha Weishahn averages a team-best 9.73 assists while Carissa Lee leads in digs (4.00) and Jessie Carlson in blocks (1.25).
Colorado State - CSU enters the week with a perfect conference slate (3-0) and owns a 9-3 overall mark. The Utes went 1-2 in three meetings with the Rams last year and trail in the all-time series, 18-41. Dre Downs leads the team with a .340 hitting percentage and 1.65 blocks per game. Casey Bauer racks up kills at a 4.14 per-game clip while Ashley Fornstrom leads with 10.44 assists per game and Kelsey Hoff with 3.67 digs.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 309-183 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: The Utes return to Crimson Court where they will play seven of the next eight matches. First up on the extended homestand are New Mexico and Air Force. The Lobos come to town on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m., while the Falcons invade Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m.