Utah volleyball hosts two matches during homecoming weekend.
Oct. 11, 2005
This Week: The University of Utah volleyball team (11-6 overall, 3-3 Mountain West) will enjoy a long conference homestand that begins when New Mexico and Air Force come to town for homecoming weekend. Seven of the next eight matches are at Crimson Court and it all begins when the Lobos pop in on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. Weekend action concludes when the Falcons invade Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week - "New Mexico is a good team that played very well against us the last time we met them down there. They are physically and mentally sound and it's going to be a big match for us since they beat us last time at their place"
On Playing Seven of the Next Ten Matches at Home - "It's huge to be at home as much as we are in the second round. We need to take advantage of it, get on a roll and get as many wins as we can. But, it's not going to be easy.
"We're done with mid-week games. Now that we are home, we can focus on our practices. We are at a point where we can get a lot better in the next few weeks."
Home Sweet Home: The University of Utah begins a stretch where it will play seven of the last 10 matches this year on its home court. That bodes well for the Utes as they make their push towards the conference tournament. They are 5-0 at home. That mark includes a five-game upset over then-No. 17 Santa Clara. The Utes are 75-13 at home over the last seven years, including 37-6 in conference play.
What's the Score: Shelly Sommerfeldt had a career-high 20 digs in the win over Wyoming. The senior outside hitter led the team in digs last week. She averaged 3.00 digs per game over the two matches. It is the second time she set a career high in digs this year. She had a then-career-high 19 against Utah State on Sept. 6.
Around the Block: Emillie Toone had a career night in the five-game loss to Colorado State last weekend. She led the team with a career-high-tying 13 kills, led the way with a career- and match-high 12 total blocks and hit a team-best .400. The 12 block assists against CSU ties the school record for block assists in a five-game match. Toone has been a blocking force over the last four matches, averaging 1.62 blocks per game during that span. Her season average is up to 1.39 blocks per game, good enough for second in the league.
Doubles Match: Airial Salvo recorded her ninth double-double of the season with a 15-kill, 13-dig showing against Colorado State. The 13 kills marked the fourth straight match with double-digit kills for Salvo. She has reached twin number in kills in seven out of the last eight matches. Fellow outside Shelly Sommerfeldt also has nine double-doubles on the season. She turned in her ninth last weekend with a 17-kill, 20-dig showing against Wyoming. Sommerfeldt has double-digit kills in five straight matches and in nine of her last 10.
Webb Gem: Whitney Webb turned in a hand full of career highs in the two matches last week. The sophomore outside started in both matches last week and had a career high with 10 digs against Wyoming and a career-best six total blocks against Colorado State. Moreover, Webb averages 0.68 blocks per game for on the season, but she was good for 1.22 per game last weekend.
Big D: Utah didn't have any struggles when it came to defense last weekend. The Utes held Wyoming to a .063 hitting efficiency, the lowest for a Ute opponent so far this season. While Colorado State hit .169 (the second best effort by a conference opponent this season), the Utes did jam the CSU attack to the tune of 21.5 team blocks. Five Utes had five or more blocks against CSU. They were led by Emillie Toone and her 12 total blocks. Whitney Webb and Shannon Krug each had six blocks while Shelly Sommerfeldt and Airial Salvo both had five on the night.
Climbing Up the Charts: Shelly Sommerfeldt continues to solidify herself as one of the top offensive threats in Utah history. Two weeks ago, she netted her 1,000th career kill and moved into ninth in the Ute record book. She now has 1,047 kills and needs only nine more to move into eighth and pass Sheila Cottrell-Sorensen. She needs 48 more to move into seventh and pass Jenni Eyre. Former teammate and All-American Kim Turner holds the all-time mark with 1,620 career kills.
No Time for Losing: The Utes have not lost more than two in a row in nearly nine years. The last time the Utes had an extended losing streak was way back in 1996. They lost to Western Athletic Conference rivals New Mexico (10/26), Brigham Young (10/29) and Hawaii (11/1). All three matches were 3-1 setbacks.
Team News and Notes: The Utes are averaging 14.6 kills per game this year. Against Colorado State, Utah averaged 10.2 kills. That was the lowest per-game average this year. The highest was 18.3 kills per game against Idaho State ... the Utes hit .116 against CSU, the second-lowest effort by Utah this season. The lowest efficiency was .112 against then-No. 9 Tennessee ... in the seven matches prior to last weekend, the Utes averaged 3.45 service errors per game. Last weekend, they accumulated them at a meager 1.33-per-game rate ... Utah's opponent hitting percentage of .149 is tops in the MWC while the U.'s 3.37 blocks per game ranks second in the league ... no opponent has hit better than .169 against the Utes in the last seven matches ... Utah is 10-1 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 6-6 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, 6-1 in four-game matches, and 2-3 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 went 1-1 in Mountain West Conference action last weekend. They topped Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., 3-1, and fell at Colorado State, 3-2.
The Utes held Wyoming to .063 hitting and saw themselves hit .338 over the last two games to grab the four-game win over the Cowgirls. Utah held the 15-7 edge in team blocks, led by Emillie Toone's six total blocks.
It was a back-and-forth match at CSU that saw the Rams surge past the Utes in the five-game affair. It was a defensive bout as both teams had 21.5 team blocks, led by Toone's 12 total blocks. But, CSU out-hit Utah and held the Utes to a .116 efficiency, their lowest since conference play began.
Toone hit a team-best .283 on the weekend while Shelly Sommerfeldt was the team's leader in kills (3.22 per game) and digs (3.00).
Scouting This Week's Opponents:
New Mexico - The Lobos enter action this week 11-5 and with a 3-3 conference slate. They won their last two matches and three of their last five. The two rivals have tangled once already this year, with New Mexico getting the five-game win on its home court. The all-time series stands in favor of Utah, 34-27. Chelsea Sondrup is the team's top hitter (.282) and blocker (1.30) while Nicole Ryan's 3.58 kills per game is also tops. Sarah Kwasigroch's 11.39 assists leads the way as does Kim Cox's 2.73 digs.
Air Force - The Falcons are 4-16 this year and own an 0-6 conference tally. They have lost eight straight, including a 3-0 setback to Utah back in the opening weekend of MWC play. AFA has yet to beat Utah in the all-time series, losing in all 16 tilts. Brooke Akers is the Falcons' top threat, averaging 3.16 kills on .254 hitting. Carly Siefken's 9.94 assists leads the team as does her 2.42 digs.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 310-184 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.
Up Next: The Utes' homestand continues when they play San Diego State and UNLV for the first time this year. The Aztecs come to town on Friday, Oct. 21, and the Rebels on Saturday, Oct. 22. Both matches are at Crimson Court and start at 7 p.m. One of the last three road matches follows when Utah plays at TCU on Saturday, Oct. 29.