Whitney Webb and the Utah volleyball team host the final home matches of the season this weekend.
Nov. 8, 2005
This Week - The University of Utah volleyball team (17-6, 9-3 Mountain West) enters the home stretch as it hosts the final two home matches of the year this weekend. Wyoming (9-13, 4-7 MWC) and Colorado State (14-7, 7-4 MWC) come to town on Fri.-Sat, Nov. 11-12. Both matches will be held in the friendly confines of Crimson Court and will start at 7 p.m.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week - "It is important that we take everything one match at a time and one weekend at a time. We need to keep to the grind and work on getting better. Our success over the last couple weeks has come as a result of good practices, a solid work ethic and great preparation.
"Last week's BYU win was a great win for us but that match is behind now. Everything we do now is about Wyoming and Colorado State."
Footloose - Airial Salvo laid claim to her second MWC Player of the Week nod in helping Utah nab the 3-0 win over No. 12-ranked BYU last weekend. She led the team in collecting 15 kills on .371 hitting and nearly had a double-double with nine digs. Moreover, the standout freshman had the game-winning kills in each of the second and third games. It is the second such award in her young career as she won the very first one of the year back on Aug. 29.
Red Rain - Crimson Court has been the epitome of the home court advantage as Utah has won 10 straight home matches this season, 11 dating to its 3-0 win over Eastern Washington on Nov. 27 of last year. Among the Utes' 11 straight wins are victories over then-No. 17 Santa Clara (3-2 on Sept. 17) and a 3-0 triumph over then-No. 12 Brigham Young (Nov. 4). The 11 straight home wins is the third longest home streak in program history.
Shakedown - Utah brought down one of the most potent offenses it has seen at Crimson Court last weekend. The Utes held BYU, the top hitting team in the conference, to a .172 efficiency and Lindsy Hartsock, the nation's top hitter (.474), to a meager .150. Defense has been a team hallmark in 2005 as it ranks No. 1 in the conference in both opponent hitting percentage (.140) and blocks per game (3.48).
A View to a Kill - A record number of spectators saw Utah take down undefeated and No. 12-ranked BYU last weekend. A standing-room only crowd of 1,591 people saw the Utes knock off their most-heated rival. The old Crimson Court record was 1,573 back on Nov. 14, 1997, also versus BYU.
Take On Me - The Utes have won six straight matches and the numbers tell you why. During this stretch, Utah is hitting .282, averaging 14.71 assists and tallying 3.86 blocks per game. Those numbers are marked improvement over the .231 hitting average, 13.58 assists and 3.48 blocks that it averages over the season.
When the Going Gets Tough - Over the last two matches, Utah is hitting .153 in game ones, averaging 12 kills in those first frames. However, over the last two games, the Utes rally to hit .327 and average 17.3 kills in those games.
Good Thing - Lori Baird has had five or more total blocks in each of the last three matches. She is Utah's leading blocker over that span, averaging 2.0 per game. She had nine blocks against San Diego State (10/22), six at TCU (10/29) and five against No. 12 BYU (11/4). She is second on the team in blocks, racking up 1.37 per game.
Who's That Girl - Lori Baird and Shannon Krug continue to make waves on the conference scene in only their first year. Baird is the conference's top-hitting freshman, knocking down kills at a .303 clip. She ranks fourth in the league overall. A setter, Krug's 11.32 assists per game is second among freshman setters in the conference. She is third overall in the MWC.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Freshman standout Airial Salvo tapped the No. 12-ranked BYU Cougars for a team-best 15 kills on .371 hitting. She has created match-up problems for league rivals, racking up double-digit kills in 11 of the 10 MWC matches. She averages 3.27 kills per game on .259 hitting for the year. Her numbers go up to 3.48 kills and .262 hitting in conference tilts.
Shake It Up - Shelly Sommerfeldt is one kill shy of securing sixth place in Utah's career kill record book. She had 10 kills last weekend, bringing her career tally to 1,109. She is currently tied for sixth with Debbie Gibby-Smith (1989-92). The all-time kills leader at Utah is Sommerfeldt's former teammate, Kim Turner. She amassed 1,620 in her four-year career.
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 has beat three of the last five ranked teams it has played on Crimson Court in the last two seasons. Colorado State and Hawaii were both ranked in their last visits to Salt Lake City and are the last two teams to even bag a win on Crimson Court ... opponents are averaging a trifling .109 hitting percentage against Utah in the last six matches while Utah has never hit below .248 in its last six ... Utah didn't record a single ace against BYU. It is the first time this year that the Utes were held without an ace ... Utah has been held under 10 team blocks just three times this year. It is 1-2 when that happens ... Utah is 2-3 against ranked teams this year. It beat No. 17 Santa Clara, 3-2, and No. 12 BYU, 3-0. It lost to No. 20 BYU (3-1), to No. 21 Missouri (3-0) and No. 9 Tennessee (3-0) ... the team is 10-0 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 6-2 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 made a run at the league's top team as it took down the undefeated and No. 12-ranked BYU cougars last Friday, 3-0. Defense was on the mark as it held the league's most offensive team to a .172 hitting efficiency. It out-blocked its rivals 12.5-8, led by Lori Baird and her five total blocks. Offense played its role too as the Utes hit .262 for the game, buoyed by a .325 effort in the third and frame. Airial Salvo racked up a team-best 15 kills on .371 hitting and Shelly Sommerfeldt racked up 10 kills at a .286 clip.
Scouting This Week's Opponent:
Wyoming - The Cowgirls boast a 9-13 overall mark and are 4-7 in loop action. Utah and UW have already met once this year, with the Utes coming up with the 3-1 victory. Utah owns the all-time series lead, 33-23. Rachel Smith's 3.81 kills per game leads the team as does Andrea Seele's .273 hitting percentage. The attack runs through Tasha Weishahn who averages 11.10 assists. On defense, Carissa Lee (3.25 digs) and Jessie Carlson (1.09 blocks) are tops.
Colorado State - The Rams come to town sporting a 14-7 overall mark and a 7-4 league tally. Utah and CSU have already tangled once this year with the Rams recording the five-game, defensive victory. Colorado State leads the all-time series, 42-18. Casey Bauer averages a team-best 3.64 kills per game but Dre Downs is the top hitter, netting kills at a .339 rate. Ashley Fornstrom sets the attack with 11.16 assists per game while Katherine Whitney (3.79 digs) and Downs (1.58 blocks) leads the team's defense.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 316-184 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 regular season comes to an end as Utah takes a road trip to Las Vegas, Nev., and San Diego, Calif. The Utes play at UNLV on Friday, Nov. 18, and at San Diego State on Saturday, Nov. 19. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. (PST). Tournament play begins on Thanksgiving Day with UNLV hosting the eight-match event. It culminates with the championship match on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. (PST).