The Utes host No. 12-ranked BYU this Friday at 7 p.m.
Nov. 1, 2005
This Week - The University of Utah volleyball team (16-6, 8-3 Mountain West) has the heady task of taking on one of the top teams in the country this weekend. The Utes host in-state rival and No. 12 Brigham Young on Friday, Nov. 4. The match will be at Crimson Court and is slated to start at 7 p.m.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week - "We are happy with where this team is at at this point of the season. We started the year with a young team and now we are two-thirds of the way through the season and we are not inexperienced anymore. We are getting better as the season progresses and our goals for the year are firmly in place."
On Last Week - "TCU had a tough schedule to deal with last week but we are playing good volleyball right now. We went down there last weekend focused and took care of business."
Streakin' - The Utes have won five straight matches and are hitting .286 over that span. The Utes have not hit worse than .248 during the streak, topping out with a .333 effort in the second meeting against Air Force (10/15). For the year, Utah is hitting .230 but sees its average bump up to .246 in league play.
Oh-Fer - Utah's defense has wrecked havoc on opposing offenses in the last two matches, holding opponents to a meager .056 hitting. It held San Diego State to a .089 hitting percentage and then held TCU to a season-low .008 last weekend. The Utes surrendered 34 kills to the Horned Frogs but forced them to commit 33 miscues on 118 swings. Utah has held its rivals to under .100 hitting in six matches this year.
Building Blocks - Middle blockers Emillie Toone and Lori Baird led the Utes with six total blocks each against TCU. The tandem has proven to be menacing defenders this season. They account for 72 percent of the team's blocks, totaling 214 of the team's 297.5 (1.38 per game). The two lead the team in blocking with Toone racking up 1.48 per game and Baird 1.29. They rank second and fifth in the conference, respectively.
The "Toone" Network - During the five-match winning streak, Emillie Toone has been a blocking force. She has amassed 29 total blocks and has an average of 1.81 per game during that span. During the run, she has had two matches where she averaged 2.0 blocks per game. She had eight total blocks in three games against San Diego State (10/22) and six blocks in three games last weekend against TCU.
That's Some Good Home Cookin' - The Utes return home and will play three of their last five matches at Crimson Court. Utah is 9-0 on its home venue this year and hasn't lost in Salt Lake City since No. 1-ranked Hawaii topped the Utes on Nov. 24, 2004. The Utes have won 10 straight since their last home loss, including a five-game win over then-No. 17 Santa Clara on Sept. 17 of this year.
Log Jam - Utah moved into second place in the MWC last week thanks to a 3-0 win over TCU. The fight for second place is heated as three teams near the top have three losses. Utah is in second at 8-3 with UNLV a half-match behind at 7-3. Colorado State has played two fewer matches than Utah and is in fourth at 6-3. BYU is in first, sporting a perfect 11-0 mark. The other three top MWC teams still remain on Utah's regular-season docket as first-place BYU comes to town this Friday, Nov. 4, while CSU is here on Saturday, Nov. 12. Utah is at UNLV on Friday, Nov. 18.
Buzz Kill - Airial Salvo led the Utes with 12 kills against TCU last weekend. That was the third straight double-digit kill outing for Salvo. In the last three matches, she has led the team with a 3.70 kills-per-game average while hitting .208. She has recorded double-digit kills in eight of her last nine matches.
A Good Offense Starts With ... - Utah now boasts one of the top defenses in the conference. Its opponents' hitting percentage is tops in the league at .138 while its blocks per game (3.46) are tied for first with Colorado State.
Rated Rookies - Lori Baird is hitting .306 on the year to rank among the top hitters in the league. Her average is fourth in the conference and tops among all conference freshmen. Classmate Shannon Krug is also one of the top newcomers in the league. She tallies 11.31 assists per game and ranks second among all MWC freshman setters. She ranks third overall in the conference.
Dynamic Duo - Shelly Sommerfeldt and Airial Salvo have combined to become the top offensive duo on the team. Sommerfeldt averages 3.40 kills pr game on .218 hitting while Salvo nets 3.21 kills on .254 hitting. Together, they account for 3.30 kills per game and hit .235. Their numbers account for 42 percent of the team's offense.
Better Than Average - The Utes average 1.3 aces per game but saw their service step up in last weekend's clash with TCU. The team chalked up eight aces in the win over the Horned Frogs. It was the third best effort this season as the Utah tallied 11 against Air Force (10/15) and nine versus UVSC (9/20).
There She Goes - Shelly Sommerfeldt tallied nine kills in the win over TCU last weekend. With that, she upped her career kills number to 1,099 and successfully moved into seventh place in Utah's record book. She passed Jenni Eyre who had 1,094 kills from 1984-87. With 11 more kills, Sommerfeldt would move into sixth all-time, passing Debbie Gibby-Smith's 1,109 career kills. Sommerfeldt's former teammate, Kim Turner, holds the all-time career kills mark with 1,620 to her credit.
Dancing in Vegas - The Utes will make their postseason appearance at the 2005 Mountain West Conference Tournament. The tourney is in Las Vegas, from Nov. 24-26 and will be produced by CSTV. It will air the quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches on its cable network in addition to streaming it on the Web. The Webcasting will be available on the conference Web site (www.themwc.com), through its All-Access feature at no cost to the consumer.
Team News and Notes: 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) ... against ranked teams, Utah is hitting .185 while its ranked foes hit .241 against it ... Utah's blocking average of 3.5 per game also slips to 2.63 against ranked opponents ... the Utes are hitting .230 for the season but improve to hitting .246 in conference matches. They rank third in the MWC in hitting in all matches, second in league-only contests ... the team is 9-0 at home but 7-6 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 5-2 in three-gamers, 9-1 in four-game matches, and 2-3 in five-game affairs ... this season, Utah is 2-2 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 reeled off their fifth straight win as they tallied a valuable road victory over conference newcomer TCU, 3-0.
Utah hit .275 for the match but got off to an uncharacteristically slow start. After hitting .163 in the first frame, the Utes hit .348 over the last two games. Airial Salvo led the way with 12 kills while Shelly Sommerfeldt tallied nine on .300 hitting.
Scouting This Week's Opponent:
Brigham Young - The Cougars are the No. 12-ranked team in the nation and enter this week with a 20-0 overall mark and an 11-0 conference slate. The two have already tangled once this season with BYU picking up the 3-1 win in Provo back on Sept. 28. BYU leads the all-time series, 54-17. Lindsy Hartsock leads the team in hitting .474 on the year while Chelsea Goodman's 4.12 kills per game is also tops. Lauren Evans sets the attack in averaging 13.02 assists per game. Lindsey Evans (3.47 digs per game) and Rachel Dyer (1.16 blocks) lead the team defensively.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 315-184 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 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 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 host their final two matches when conference rivals Colorado State and Wyoming come to town. Wyoming invades Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 11, while Colorado State comes to town on Saturday, Nov. 12. Both matches are at Crimson Court and will start at 7 p.m.