Connie Dangerfield and the No. 9 Utes host Wyoming on Thursday.
Nov. 7, 2006
This Week - One match is on the schedule this week as the No. 9-ranked University of Utah volleyball team (22-2, 13-0 Mountain West) will host its regular season home finale. Utah welcomes Wyoming (11-2, 5-7 MWC) to town on Thursday, Nov. 9. First serve is set for 7 p.m. Crimson Court is located on the lower level of the HPER-East complex, in room 101.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week: "Wyoming played us very well at their place and I think it is playing some of its best volleyball right now. It has won three straight, including wins over UNLV and San Diego State. I think we have to be prepared to play a team that is playing some of the best volleyball over the second half of conference play."
On Last Week: "I was glad to see us get two big wins last weekend. I was very pleased with our energy, focus and execution over the last two matches."
What's Your 20? - Airial Salvo's arm powered the Ute offense in the four-game win over New Mexico last weekend. She put down a career-high 20 kills in the victory and led all players in hitting a career high .514. She nabbed her 20 kills on 37 swings, committing only one error in the process. For the weekend, Salvo was second on the team among its hitters (.390) and led it in kills (4.38 per game).
Going for the Goose Egg - This week's match against Wyoming marks the regular season home finale for the Utes. Utah enters the match with a perfect 11-0 home slate. More impressive, though, is that Utah has yet to lose a game at Crimson Court, tallying 3-0 sweeps in all 11 matches. On Crimson Court this season, Utah is hitting an impressive .306 while its opponents hit .064. It also holds a 133.5-70.5 edge in blocks. Utah has had only one other perfect season at home, going 15-0 in 2001. That was also the same year that Utah ventured in to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.
20-20 Vision - During the current 20-match winning streak: the team has only lost six games (one each to UNLV, BYU, TCU and New Mexico, and two to Wyoming) ... 15 of the matches are 3-0 sweeps ... the Utes haven't lost to a ranked opponent ... Utah nearly out-blocks its opponents at a 2-to-1 rate. Utah has 3.89 blocks per game while rivals are blocking at a 2.14 clip ... opponents are hitting a meager .096 against Utah ... the Utes have almost double the aces than their opponents, 112-62 ... Utah's top four hitters (Emillie Toone, .373; Whitney Webb, .361; Lori Baird, .344; and Airial Salvo, .304) are all hitting better than .300.
Forward Thinking - Checking the record books, Connie Dangerfield's 30 digs last weekend upped her career total 961. Not only did that move her into ninth all-time, but she is also 39 short of 1,000 career digs. Only five other Utes have 1,000 career digs to their credit. Brenda Barton-Whicker (1994-97) owns the all-time record with 1,313. Other records of note, Emillie Toone needs three block assists to crack into the all-time top three in that category. She also needs 17 total blocks to take over sixth place in the career annals. Toone has 383 and 423 blocks, respectively.
Whit's World - Whitney Webb tallied a career high in the four-game win against TCU last weekend. She recorded a career-best 19 kills in leading all players with a .484 (19-4-31) hitting percentage. Webb returned on Saturday to net 10 kills on .286 (10-4-21) hitting against New Mexico. She finished the weekend as Utah's top hitter. The junior outside hit .404 for the weekend and netted kills at a 3.62 clip. Webb was also a defensive fixture, finishing the week with 1.88 digs and 1.25 blocks per game.
A Two-Way Player - If the trio of Emillie Toone, Whitney Webb and Lori Baird don't get you on offense, they'll get you on defense. All three rank in the top six in the league in both hitting and blocking. Toone is the league's No. 3 hitter (.360) and its No. 1 blocker (1.90). Baird is No. 6 (.318) and No. 3 (1.43), respectively, while Webb is No. 4 in hitting (.350) and No. 5 in blocks (1.38).
The Numbers Game - 64, the number days it's been since Utah lost a match; 20, the number of victories in Utah's current winning streak; 12, the number of games Utah has lost all season; 9, where Utah ranks in the coaches poll; 1, the number of five-game matches Utah has played this year; 0, the number of home losses and the number of games Utah has lost on its home court.
National Rankings Updated - In the national rankings through Nov. 5, Emillie Toone is the No. 1 blocker (1.90 bpg). Meanwhile, the team ranks first in blocks per game (3.79), seventh in win-loss percentage (.917), ninth in hitting (.283), 23rd in kills (16.39) and 30th in assists (14.92).
Poll Position - Utah is currently ranked No. 9 in the latest poll ... it has been ranked the CSTV/AVCA coaches poll a total of 71 times ... the highest-ever ranking was No. 8 on Sept. 9, 2002 ... the Utes have been ranked in the top 10 a total of seven times. They were top 10 three times in 2001 and four times this season ... prior to this season, the last top-10 ranking was on Sept. 16, 2002 when Utah checked in at No. 10.
Potent Notables - The Utes are 2-2 against nationally ranked teams this season. They beat then-No. 16 and 17 BYU, 3-1 and 3-0, respectively, and lost to then-No. 5 Florida and then-No. 14 USC, both by 3-1 counts ... with the most recent win over BYU, Utah has recorded its 11th straight 20-win season ... Utah's 17.5 team blocks against New Mexico last weekend marks the team's second-best blocking effort of the season. Only the 27.0 team blocks in the five-game effort against Wyoming was better ...TCU hit .280 versus Utah last weekend, marking the highest percentage among Ute rivals this season ... ten of the last 11 Ute opponents have not hit above .200 ... Utah is 17-0 in three-game matches, 4-2 in four-game affairs and 1-0 in five-gamers ... they are also 21-3 in games one and two, 20-4 in game three, 5-2 in game four and 1-0 in game five.
Scouting the Opponent:
Wyoming - The Cowgirls (11-12, 5-7 MWC) are currently in fifth place after winning their last three league matches. Last weekend, they topped UNLV (3-0) and San Diego State (3-1). Those three wins come on the heels of a season-long, seven-match losing streak. During that skid the Cowgirls dropped a heart-pumping five-game match to then-No. 12 ranked Utah. This week's match is the 60th meeting all-time with Utah holding the 36-23 series lead. Leading the Cowgirls this year are Rachel Smith (3.65 kills), Lauren Scott (.269 hitting), Tasha Weishahn (10.68 assists), Andrea Seele (1.05 blocks) and Samatha Eley (3.59 digs).
Last Week - The winning streak continued for the Utes as they rolled the streak out to 20 straight matches by topping TCU (30-28, 30-27, 18-30, 30-21) and New Mexico (30-17, 30-17, 31-33, 30-19) in two road tilts.
Despite trailing in nearly every statistical category, the Utes escaped TCU thanks in part to the 19-kill outing of Whitney Webb. She also led all Utes in hitting an impressive .484 (19-4-31) for the match. The only other Ute with double-digit kills was Airial Salvo. She finished with 15 kills.
TCU hit .280 for the match and held the 12-8 edge in team blocks. It held the Utes to just .238 hitting. Utah's defense centered around the six-block outing of Emillie Toone, the four-block effort of Webb and the 15-dig match of Connie Dangerfield.
Utah recorded another four-game win at New Mexico, as the team hit an impressive .356 for the match. Salvo's arm led the way as she had a career-high night on offense, tallying 20 kills on .514 (20-1-37) hitting. She was one of four Utes with double-digit kills as Lori Baird (13 kills), Kathryn Lovell (11) and Webb (10) also helped out.
Defensively, Utah held the 17.5-9 edge in team blocks, holding the Lobos to a meager .093 hitting. Baird's nine blocks led the way with help on Webb's and Toone's six total blocks. Dangerfield led from the back row as she recorded 15 digs on the night.
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. The Mountain West Conference quarterfinals and semifinals will air on the mtn., while the MWC Championships match will air on 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 344-189 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 11 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 - The regular season concludes on the road at Air Force (Nov. 17) and Colorado State (Nov. 18). Postseason play begins with the Mountain West Conference Tournament on Nov. 23-25. It will be held at Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. The winner of the tournament wins the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Seeding for the tournament will be set at the end of the regular season.