The Utah volleyball team enters action this week with a shot at the MWC regular season title.
Nov. 8, 2004
What's on Tap?
The No. 17-ranked (USA Today/CSTV coaches poll) University of Utah women's volleyball team (20-3, 12-0 Mountain West) has put itself in the driver's seat for its first Mountain West Conference title going into the final weekend against Wyoming and No. 10 Colorado State. The Cowgirls come to town on Friday, Nov. 12 while CSU invades Crimson Court on Saturday, Nov. 13. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. The Colorado State match will be televised on a tape delay on College Sports Television this Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m., as part of the CSTV Sunday Night Spikes.
Scouting the Opposition:
Wyoming (13-11, 6-6 Mountain West) is currently tied for fourth in the Mountain West. The Cowgirls have won three of their last five but dropped a 3-0 decision to Colorado State in their last outing. UW is 5-7 on the road this season, going 2-3 in conference road tilts. Sara Maytorena is the top offensive threat. Her 3.46 kills per game and .272 hitting percentage are tops on the team. The offense centers around Amy Doman and her 13.29 assists while the defense is led by Lauren Scott (1.19 blocks) and Rachael Booth (3.15 digs).
Colorado State (20-3, 11-1 Mountain West) is the only other team in the MWC, along with Utah, to amass 20 wins this season. The Rams are currently second in the conference, their lone blemish a 3-1 loss to Utah earlier this season. The Rams begin weekend action at BYU on Friday and will look to fight for a share of the conference regular season title on Saturday. The Rams saw a seven-match win streak come to an end on Sunday night, falling at No. 3 Nebraska, 3-0. It was the first road loss on the season for CSU. All three of CSU's losses this year have been at the hands of top-25 teams (No. 5 Minnesota, No. 18 Utah, and No. 3 Nebraska). CSU is the top-ranked offense in the conference, leading in hitting (.290), assists (16.13) and kills (17.38). Three Rams are also the individual offensive leaders in the conference. Katie Shirley-Cahoon leads in hitting (.395), Tess Rogers in kills (3.90) and Melissa Courtney in assists (13.87). Shirley-Cahoon leads the Rams in blocks (1.29) and Kristen Karlik in digs (3.42).
This will be the second time that Utah has seen Wyoming and Colorado State this season.
The Utes, who are 31-23 all-time against the Cowgirls, nabbed a 3-1 victory in Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 16. Game scores were 31-33, 30-28, 34-32 and 30-17. Utah picked up the win hitting .376 for the match and were led by Lyndsey Henderson and Shelly Sommerfeldt who each tallied a match-best 20 kills. Henderson hit a career-high .680 (20-3-25) against the Cowgirls. Kelsie Kartchner and Tracy Neumeier each led the Utes with 30 assists and Connie Dangerfield's 14 kills tied for match-high honors.
The Utes tallied their first win in 19 tries in Fort Collins, Colo., on Oct. 15. Then ranked 18th, the Utes upset then-ranked No. 7 Rams, 3-1 (27-30, 30-21, 37-35 and 30-26). Utah held the potent Ram offense to a .123 hitting percentage, in racking up kills at a .219 clip themselves. Sommerfeldt was one of four Utes to tally double-digit kills, leading the way with 16. Neumeier handed out a team-best 29 assists while Dangerfield led all players with 23 digs. CSU leads the all-time series, 39-18.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On Wyoming and Colorado State: "Practices this week are going to be the same as all the other ones. These last couple weeks of coaching are easy because the motivation and desire are there.
"However, we saw some things last weekend that we need tend to - our block is down a bit and our hitters need to work on some things. We just need to keep plugging away because there's still a lot of season left."
On last weekend: "Playing at San Diego State and UNLV is a difficult trip, especially when we are flying on game day. But, this teams knows how to respond to challenges that it is made aware of. There could have been a let down last weekend but this team stepped up and responded. The team has done that all season."
The Utes stretched their current win streak to five matches after a pair of 3-0 road wins over San Diego State (30-25, 30-18, 30-20) and UNLV (30-18, 30-26, 30-20).
Utah hit .318 for the match, boosted by a .455 hitting percentage in game two, to SDSU's .178. Lyndsey Henderson led the way with 15 kills and Kelsie Kartchner had a double-double with 15 assists and 10 digs. She also chipped in with nine kills. Tracy Neumeier led the Utes with 19 assists while Connie Dangerfield's 11 digs and Henderson's four blocks led the defense. Neumeier and Kartchner combined for six (three each) of the team's eight aces.
The Utes held UNLV to a .068 hitting percentage and 29 kills for its third straight sweep. Utah benefitted from seven service aces, three from Neumeier, and hit .280 for the match. Henderson's 15 kills led the way and was trailed by Kartchner's 12. Kartchner had a double-double with a match-high 26 assists while Neumeier handed out 24. Dangerfield finished with 15 digs while Henderson and Amie Toone posted three blocks in the win.
National Rankings: through 10/31, Lyndsey Henderson is fifth in blocks per game (1.78) while the team ranks seventh (3.35). Note: NCAA stats are updated every Tuesday.
Mountain West Individual Stats: Lyndsey Henderson is second in blocks per game (1.73) and in kills (3.75), third in hitting percentage (.376), and seventh in aces (0.30); Connie Dangerfield is second in digs (4.25); Tracy Neumeier is fourth in aces (0.32), eighth in both assists (6.46) and 15th in digs (2.21); Amie Toone is fifth in blocks (1.333) and 19th in hitting percentage (.234); Danielle Leichliter is ninth in service aces per game (0.29); Kelsie Kartchner is ninth in assists (6.21) and 15th in aces (0.25); Shelly Sommerfeldt is 14th in kills (3.00).
Mountain West Team Stats: Utah is tops in opponent hitting percentage (.135), service aces (1.78) and blocks (3.28); second in digs (14.68); fourth in hitting (.246); fifth in kills (15.24) and assists (13.74).
The Big Two-Oh:
The Utes tallied their 20th win for the season when they swept the UNLV Rebels on Saturday, Nov. 6. The Utes, currently 20-3, have tallied 20-win seasons the last nine years (dating back to the 1996 season). The most wins in a season by a Ute team is 25. Both the 2001 (25-7) and 2002 (25-9) teams hold the honor.
Going For A Baker's Dozen:
The Utes have tied the school record for conference wins in a season, tallying 12 thus far. The Utes sit atop the Mountain West Conference with a 12-0 mark and still have two conference tilts left this season. Last year's team was the only other team to tally 12 wins (12-2). Utah has never gone undefeated in conference play.
For The Crystal Ball-Impaired:
The Utes are assured a share of the regular season title if they win on Friday. Should there be a first-place tie, the two teams would be dubbed co-MWC Champions for the regular season. However, to determine MWC Tournament seeding, the following methods would be employed in this order: comparison of head-to-head conference matches among tied teams; comparison of the tied teams' records against other conference opponents in conference matches in descending order starting with top-seeded team until the tie is broken; a drawing by the commissioner.
Double-Double Double Vision:
Kelsie Kartchner tallied back-to-back double-doubles last weekend. Against San Diego State, the setter handed out 15 assists and scooped up 10 digs. She was one shy of the coveted triple-double, racking up nine kills in the effort. She returned against UNLV to hit a season-best .632. She had 12 kills and no errors on 19 swings. Kartchner also dished out a match-high 26 assists.
Utah, which had five 3-0 sweeps in the first 17 matches this year, haven't given opponents much of a chance lately. The Utes have swept three straight opponent and four of the last five. The only team to peel a game off of Utah during this streak is New Mexico. It won game one in extra points, 34-32.
Watch Out, Big Hitter Here:
Middle blocker Lyndsey Henderson turned in a pair of 15-kill performances last weekend. In fact, the 6-5 Orem native has had 15 kills in four of the last five matches. She had seven against Air Force, appearing in only two of the three games. Since Utah's loss to Notre Dame, Lyndsey has been on fire, averaging 4.47 kills and hitting a smooth .468. At San Diego State and UNLV last weekend, Henderson tallied 5.0 kills per game and hit .535. Henderson has had 10 or more kills in all but three matches this season, averaging a team-best 3.75 kills and a .376 hitting percentage.
Proud To Serve:
The Utes have been averaging 2.6 service aces per game in the last four outings. During this stretch, Utah aced a season-best 11 serves against Air Force and has had no fewer than seven aces in a match. Tops in the serving department during the last four matches have been Tracy Neumeier and Lyndsey Henderson. Neuemeier tied a season best with three aces in both matches last weekend and Henderson had a career-best six against Air Force (10/30).
Utah held steady in the USA Today/CSTV coaches poll. The Utes check in at No. 17 for the third week in a row. The Utes have been in the poll eight straight weeks. No. 14 is the highest ranking yet this season ... Utah is on a 12-game winning streak, not losing since game one against New Mexico ... head coach Beth Launiere is five 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). Utah also beat Saint Mary's (currently No. 12) but lost to UC-Irvine and Long Beach State (receiving votes). Two matches still remain against ranked teams (versus No. 10 Colorado State and No. 2 Hawaii) ... the Utes are 5-2 in extra-point games ... Utah is 9-3 in games settled by two points ... Utah is 9-1 in three-game matches, 9-1 in four-gamers and 2-1 in five-game affairs.
At The Helm:
Beth Launiere is in her 15th season as head coach of the Utah women's volleyball program. She owns a 295-174 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 will compete in the MWC tournament on Nov. 18-20 in Fort Collins, Colo. All eight teams make it to the tournament with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. All seven matches of the tournament will be broadcast on College Sports TV (CSTV).