Senior Danielle Leichliter and the Utah volleyball team ends regular season play at UNLV and San Diego State this weekend.
Nov. 16, 2005
This Week - The University of Utah volleyball team (18-7, 10-4 Mountain West) wraps up regular season play with the final two conference matches of the season. The Utes take the road to play at UNLV (14-12, 10-4 MWC) on Friday, Nov. 18, and at San Diego State (15-12, 7-7 MWC) on Saturday, Nov. 19. Both matches start at 7 p.m. (PST).
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On This Week - "It's going to be a big weekend for us. There's a lot at stake with the next two matches. How we fare could be the difference between a second- and fourth-place finish in the conference and could impact us come NCAA Tournament selection day.
"But, the most important thing is that we repsond to last weekend's loss to Colorado State. It's important that we be ready for two good matches on the road this weekend ... and I think we will be. We're refocused and are coming off a solid week of practice."
You Can Never Go Home Again -The Utes finished the home portion of the regular season going 11-1. They had won 12 straight home matches until dropping a 3-1 decision to Colorado State at Crimson Court last weekend. The 11-1 overall mark at Crimson Court goes down as one of the best home tallies in program annals. The best home mark was a 15-0 slate back in 2001.
Webb Gem - Whitney Webb had one of the best weekends of her young career against Wyoming and Colorado State. She led the team in racking up 3.62 kills on .361 hitting. Moreover, she was one of the team's top defenders with 1.0 blocks and 1.50 digs per game. She turned in her first career double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs against Wyoming. She also added six total blocks. All three numbers were career highs for the sophomore hitter.
Are You All Set? - Shannon Krug dished out 12.25 assists per game last weekend. But, she also helped out in tallying 10 kills (with only two errors) on 22 dump attempts. She hit .364 over the two matches. Against Wyoming, she had a double-double with 52 assists and 11 digs. The 11 digs tied a career high for the freshman setter. She returned to have five kills and 46 assists against Colorado State.
Six of One ... - Shelly Sommerfeldt secured sixth in Utah's career kills record book. With 27 kills in a pair of matches last weekend, she raised her career total to 1,136. She passed Debbie Gibby-Smith's 1,109 and is now behind Sharman Grant and her 1,252 kills. The all-time kills leader at Utah is Sommerfeldt's former teammate, Kim Turner. Turner racked up 1,620 kills in her four years as a Ute.
The Great Wall - Middle blocker duo Lori Baird and Emillie Toone continue to wreak havoc at the net. The pair combined to tally 24 total blocks last weekend. They accounted for 13 of the 27.5 team blocks last weekend. Toone led all Utes last weekend with 1.86 blocks per game while Baird collected 1.38 per game. Toone ranks second in the conference while Baird checks in at fifth.
Off the Mark - Utah went into the weekend with a six-match winning streak. During that stretch, it hit .275. However, last weekend, the Utes struggled in racking up the kills. They saw their hitting percentage dip to .189 in their last two matches. Utah hit .243 against Wyoming but mustered a .132 average against Colorado State. The .132 efficiency versus CSU was the lowest since the Rams held Utah to a .116 average back on Oct. 9.
Stepping It Up - Whitney Webb has been a big reason why Utah has been successful over the last five matches. The team is 4-1 over that span with Webb leading the team in hitting .296. She is also second on the team in kills (2.89) and is third on the team in digs (2.50) and blocks (1.11) per game. For the year, she hits .242 and collects kills at 2.05 per-game clip. Webb also averages 1.78 digs and 0.82 blocks per game this season.
First Year Jitters? - 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.
Impressive Numbers - Freshman Airial Salvo has posted some impressive numbers over the last five matches. She leads the team with 3.44 kills per game but also collects 3.11 digs. That's only second to libero Danielle Leichliter's 4.61 digs per game. Moreover, she also records 1.00 blocks per game and leads the team with six aces.
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: Colorado State hit .212 against Utes. That is the first team in 10 matches to top the .200 hitting plateau against Utah. It is also only the second MWC team to hit better than .200 versus the Utes. The only other team to do so was then-No. 20 BYU which hit .230 in their first meeting ... Colorado State had 18 more kills than Utah in the Utes' 3-1 loss. That -18 margin is the largest so far this season ... CSU also out-blocked Utah, 18-11.5. The Rams are only the second team this season to out-block Utah. BYU did back on Sept. 28, 14-12. The Utes are 0-2 when their opponents out-block them this season ... Utah has hit below .200 seven times this year. It is 1-6 when it doesn't break the .200 barrier ... 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 11-1 at home but 7-6 when it leaves Crimson Court ... the Utes are 6-2 in three-gamers, 10-2 in four-game matches, and 2-3 in five-game affairs ... this season, Utah is 3-2 in extra-point games ... Utah has lost more game threes than any other this year. It is 16-9 in game one, 17-8 in game two, 15-10 in game three, 12-5 in game four and 2-3 in the fifth frame ... 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 split two matches last weekend. They topped Wyoming in the week's first match, 3-1, but followed that up by dropping a four-game decision to Colorado State.
Utah hit .243 against Wyoming, bouyed by a .292 effort in game three. Four Utes had double-double led by Airial Salvo's 15 kills and 13 digs. Lori Baird and Whitney Webb weren't far behind with 13 kills each. Utah held Wyoming to .146 hitting and were led defensively by Emillie Toone's eight total blocks.
The Utes saw their 12-match home winning streak come to an end against Colorado State. The Rams held Utah to just .132 hitting and were only the second team this season to out-block Utah, 18-11.5. Shelly Sommerfeldt and Webb led the offense in tallying 16 kills apiece. Defensively, Toone's and Sommerfeldt's five total bocks paced the home team.
Scouting This Week's Opponent:
UNLV - UNLV owns a 14-12 overall mark and is tied for second in the league with Utah, boasting a 10-4 MWC record. The Rebels have won five of their last six, including a 3-1 triumph over TCU in their last outing. UNLV and the Utes have met once this season. Utah nabbed the 3-0 home win back on Oct. 21. Lauren Miramontes is the top offensive threat for the Rebels. She has team highs of 3.59 kills per game and .253 hitting. Melody Nua runs the attack in dishing out 11.57 assists per game while Jada Walker (4.21) and Miramontes (0.91 blocks) lead the defense.
San Diego State - The Aztecs enter the weekend with a 15-12 overall mark and a 7-7 tally in MWC play. They snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-0 win over TCU last weekend and are currently fifth in league standings. Utah and SDSU have tangled once already this season. The Utes bagged a 3-1 home win back on Oct. 22. Leading the Aztec attack are Melanie Greene and Lindsey Noll. Greene averages 3.28 kills per game while Noll hits a team-best .340. Setting the attack are Kristen Castillo (6.64 assists per game) and Leah Lathrop (5.43). Defensively, Amie Cordeiro (4.67 digs) and Noll (1.31 bocks) are tops.
At the Helm: Beth Launiere is in her 16th season as Utah's head coach. She has a 317-185 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.
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 postseason is on the horizon as Utah heads to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference Tournament. It begins on Thursday, Nov. 24, with the quarterfinals and ends on Saturday, Nov. 26, with the championship match. Times have yet to be determined as seedings are set based on the final league standings. The winner of the tournament receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament of 64 teams.