Danielle Leichliter and the Utah women's volleyball team host two matches this week.
Oct. 18, 2004
What's on Tap?
The No. 14-ranked (USA Today/CSTV coaches poll) University of Utah women's volleyball team (15-2, 7-0 Mountain West) returns home to host a pair of matches this week. The Utes hit the court this Tuesday, Oct. 19, to host Notre Dame in a non-conference tilt. Match time at Crimson Court is set for 7 p.m. The second half of the conference season begins when Brigham Young invades Crimson Court on Saturday, Oct. 23. Match time with the Cougars is set for 1 p.m., in a rare Saturday matinee.
Scouting the Opposition:
Notre Dame (9-5 overall) currently sits atop the Big East (3-0) and brings a four-match winning streak to the Beehive State. Last week, the Fighting Irish posted a 3-1 win over Seton Hall and a 3-2 win over Illinois State. UND is the top blocking team in the Big East (3.01 per game) while its .224 hitting is third. Lauren Brewster's 1.51 blocks per game and .306 hitting percentage are tops on the team. Lauren Kelbley leads the way with 3.91 kills per game while Ashley Tarutis leads the team in assists (9.4) and Meg Henican in digs (4.62).
BYU (10-8, 4-3 Mountain West) hosts Notre Dame on Wednesday, Oct. 24, before coming to Salt Lake City. The Cougars saw their five-match winning streak come to a halt with back-to-back losses last week. They dropped a 3-1 decision to Wyoming and a 3-0 match to No. 7 Colorado State. Lindsey Hartsock is having a solid campaign, leading the nation in blocks per game (1.78) while hitting a team-best .415. Kim Wilson's 3.42 kills per game leads all Cougars while Lauren Richards leads in assists (12.07) and Lindsey Metcalf in digs (2.52).
Utah will play Notre Dame for only the fifth time in the programs' respective histories. The all-time series stands at 2-2. The last time these two teams toiled was on Sept. 13, 2003. The Fighting Irish got the 3-2 home win. Utah is meeting BYU for the second time this season. The Utes opened conference play with a 3-1 win in Provo on Sept. 24. It was Utah's ninth straight win over the Cougars, who haven't topped the Utes since a 3-0 home win on Sept. 20, 2001. However, BYU holds a commanding lead in the all-time series, 16-53.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On Notre Dame: "Notre Dame is going to be a big match for us in terms of national seeding. Notre Dame is ranked high in its region and that makes for a good cross-region match.
"We've played Notre Dame a couple times in the last few years. We played a great match at its place last year are looking forward to playing Notre Dame again."
On BYU: "After playing UND, we'll be anxious to get back to Mountain West Conference play. BYU is a talented team. Anytime BYU and Utah meet in any sport it's big match. But, more importantly, it's also a conference match. At this point in the season, we have to take everything one match at a time."
The Utes stretched their win streak to 12 matches with a pair of 3-1 wins, topping No. 7 Colorado State and Wyoming last weekend.
Utah tallied its first win in CSU's Moby Arena in 19 tries with the conference victory on Friday night. It was all about defense as Utah forced CSU into 41 errors and held the top hitting team in the conference to a .123 percentage. Three Utes had seven or more blocks, led by Amie Toone and her 11. Emillie Toone had eight while Lyndsey Henderson had seven. Shelly Sommerfeldt led the way with 16 kills but Henderson hit a match-best .480, tallying 15 kills on 25 attempts. She committed only three errors. Utah rebounded from a -.061 hitting percentage in game one to hit .219 for the match.
Utah hit .376 for the match to ward off a persistent Wyoming team. Wyoming gave Utah a run for its money in the first three games but Utah hit a smooth .500 in game four (to Wyoming's .094) and cruised to victory in the deciding game. Sommerfeldt and Henderson each tallied 20 kills on the evening. Henderson, who hit .680 for the match, also led the Utes with eight blocks.
National Rankings: As of 10/10, Lyndsey Henderson is fifth in blocks per game (1.77) while the team ranks ninth (3.28). Utah's .867 winning percentage ranks 17th. Note: NCAA stats are updated every Tuesday.
Mountain West Individual Stats: Lyndsey Henderson is tied for first in blocks per game (1.78), sixth in kills (3.60) and fourth in hitting percentage (.358); Amie Toone is third in blocks (1.43); Danielle Leichliter is fifth in service aces per game (0.33); Connie Dangerfield is third in digs (4.08); Tracy Neumeier is eighth in assists (6.26) and 10th in digs (2.42); Kelsie Kartchner is ninth in assists (6.09); Shelly Sommerfeldt is 14th in kills (3.06); Emillie Toone ranks 11th in blocks (1.05).
Mountain West Team Stats: Utah is tops in opponent hitting percentage (.135) and blocks (3.38); second in digs (14.52) and service aces (1.70); it is fourth in hitting (.236); fifth in kills (14.80); fifth in assists (13.39).
Click Your Heels Together And Say ...:
There's no place like home! Leading into the MWC tournament on Nov. 18-20, the Utes will play six of eight matches at home. That's a good thing considering Crimson Court has been no friend to incoming opponents. Utah is 7-0 in its house, and has won 13 straight at home dating back to last season. Among the seven home wins this season, Utah has beaten No. 12 UCLA and No. 15 Saint Mary's. The last home loss was on Sept. 27, 2003, a 3-1 decision to Colorado State.
The Utes have started off 7-0 in Mountain West action this season. That is the best conference start in program annals. The Utes got off to a 6-0 start in 1979 when they were in the IAC. The best Utah start since the inception of the Mountain West Conference (1999) was 4-0 in 1999.
The Fickle Finger of Fate:
Streaks are known to be fickle. Utah saw one continue after last weekend while it gladly saw another one come to a screeching halt. The Utes have rattled off 12 straight wins to engineer the longest winning streak in team history. It surpasses the 11 straight wins by the 1978 and 1997 teams. Also, Utah put an end to Colorado State's 19 straight home wins over the Utes, topping the No. 7-ranked Rams, 3-1, in Moby Arena last Friday.
Nice Hittin', Tex:
Lyndsey Henderson has been tabbed the MWC Player of the Week. She hit a career-best .680 in the win over Wyoming on Saturday. She racked up 20 kills on 25 attempts while committing only three errors. While that was better than her Colorado State outing, hitting .480 with 15 kills on 25 attempts (and three errors) isn't too shabby either. In the two wins last week, Henderson hit .580 and averaged 1.88 blocks and 4.38 kills. That's better than her season averages of 3.60 kills on .358 hitting, and 1.78 blocks.
Both Shelly Sommerfeldt and Lyndsey Henderson tallied 20 kills in the win over Wyoming. It marked the first time this season that Utah had two players record 20-plus kills in the same match, and only the third 20-plus kill match by a Utah player this season. Henderson tagged UCLA for a career-best 22 kills. The 20 kills for Sommerfeldt is a season-high and was three shy of her career-mark of 23, set last year at Notre Dame on 9/13/03. Henderson has had 10 or more kills in 15 straight matches (all but the first two this season).
Sisters Amie and Emillie Toone have been frustrating opponent offenses at 6-1 and 6-7, respectively. Amie, a middle blocker, and Emillie, an outside hitter, combined for 14 blocks last weekend. Against Colorado State, Amie had a career-best 11 blocks (one solo) while Emillie's eight were also a career mark. In 2003, the last time Amie was at Colorado State, she set her previous career best with 10 blocks. Amie is third in the MWC in blocks per game (1.43) while Emillie is 11th (1.05). Fellow teammate Lyndsey Henderson is tied for the conference-best mark at 1.78 per game.
Utah continues to work its way up the USA Today/CSTV coaches poll. The Utes check in at No. 14 this week, leapfrogging from No. 18 last week. The Utes have been in the poll five straight weeks. No. 14 is the highest ranking yet this season ... Utah hit .376 against Wyoming, the second-best, single-game hitting percentage this season (.386 versus Liberty is tops) ... head coach Beth Launiere is 10 wins shy of tallying 300 career victories ... Utah is 3-2 against teams mentioned in the USA Today/CSTV coaches poll, 2-0 against top-10 teams. It beat No. 6 UCLA (3-2) and No. 7 Colorado State (3-1). Two matches still remain against ranked teams (versus No. 9 Colorado State and No. 3 Hawaii) ... Utah is 4-0 against teams from the Beehive State this season ... the Utes are 4-1 in extra-point affairs ... Utah is 8-2 in games settled by two points ... Utah is 5-0 in three-game matches, 8-1 in four-gamers and 2-1 in five-game matches.
At The Helm:
Beth Launiere is in her 15th season as head coach of the Utah women's volleyball program. She owns a 290-173 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 host conference foes New Mexico on Friday, Oct. 29, and Air Force on Saturday, Oct. 30. Both matches are at Crimson Court and start at 7 p.m.