Lori Baird and the Utah volleyball team head to Vegas for the MWC Tourney this week.
Nov. 21, 2006
This Week - Postseason play begins for the No. 9-ranked University of Utah volleyball team (25-2 overall). The Utes enter the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas on the heels of a 16-0 conference slate. They are the No. 1 seed in the tournament that begins on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Utah's first match is on Thursday, Nov. 23, against the winner of the play-in match between the No. 8-seeded New Mexico Lobos (9-19 overall) and No. 9 Air Force (3-24). First serve for Utah's match is set for 7 p.m. (PST).
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On The MWC Tournament: "The Mountain West Conference Tournament will be a good chance for this team to play in a different mindset, under the pressure of win-or-go-home. Our team is ready to play in the tournament. It's going to be exciting and a good preparation for the NCAA's."
Looking Back On the Regular Season: "We're a completely different team than the one that took the floor back in August. We didn't know Whitney Webb was going to be such a force; we did know Emillie Toone would move from a role player to a key player; and we didn't know Airial Salvo would handle the pressure of being a go-to player so well. I believe that this team has grown up a lot during the course of a long season."
D-1-K - Connie Dangerfield joined Utah's career dig club when she chalked up her 1,000th career dig in the win over Colorado State. She entered the week with 976 digs and had 17 at Air Force and 18 at CSU. Dangerfield now has 1,011 career digs in her three-year career. She is one of six Utes with 1,000 career digs. Brenda Barton-Whicker (1994-97) holds the school record with 1,313 digs.
It's a Win-Win-Win ... Situation - The Utes chalked up their 25th win of the season with their two victories last weekend. The 25 victories ties the school record for wins in a season. Head coach Beth Launiere guided her 2002, 2001 and 1993 teams to 25 wins as well. On the flip side, Utah's fewest losses in a season is seven (2004 and 2001). The Utes are 25-2 as they prepare to enter the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas this weekend. Put the two together and Utah has a .926 win percentage, well above the old mark of .781 (25-7) set back in 2001.
"Toone" Town - Emillie Toone finished the Colorado State match with a career high in blocks. She jammed the Rams to the tune of 14 block assists. Her effort set the school mark for block assists in a four-game match. Toone topped Linda Byington's 13-block effort in the four-gamer against Utah State back in 1991 and Lori Baird's 13-blocks in the four-gamer against Wyoming on Nov. 9 of this year. Last weekend, Toone averaged 2.33 blocks per game and upped her season average to a league-leading 1.93 per game.
A Perfect ... 16? - The Utes did something only one other team has done in league history, going undefeated in conference play. With the two wins last weekend, Utah went 16-0 in conference play. This is the first time in program history that the Utes have ever gone undefeated in league action. They did go 13-1 in 2004. Colorado State is the only other school to go undefeated in league play (14-0, 2001). Utah's 16 wins set the school and league standard for conference wins in a season.
Nearly Triple The Fun - Whitney Webb enters the tournament with a hot hand. She netted 3.29 kills on .283 hitting last weekend. Moreover, she also averaged 3.00 digs and 1.29 blocks. Webb nearly finished the regular season with a triple-double as she turned in 18 kills, 10 digs and nine blocks against Colorado State on Nov. 18.
Streak Speak - During the current 23-match winning streak: the team lost eight games (one each to UNLV, Brigham Young, TCU, New Mexico, and Colorado State; and three to Wyoming) ... 16 of the matches are 3-0 sweeps ... opponents hit a meager .104 while Utah hit .289 ... Utah's top four hitters (Emillie Toone, .371; Whitney Webb, .356; Lori Baird, .341; and Airial Salvo, .302) have all hit better than .300.
A Triple Threat - If the trio of Emillie Toone, Whitney Webb and Lori Baird are all an offensive and defensive threat for Utah. All three rank in the top six in the league in both hitting and blocking. Toone is the league's No. 2 hitter (.361) and its No. 1 blocker (1.93). Baird is No. 6 (.320) and No. 2 (1.45) while Webb is No. 4 (.344) and No. 6 (1.37).
The Numbers Game - 66, the number days it's been since Utah lost a match; 23, the number of victories in Utah's current winning streak; 14, 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.
Take me to Your Leader - In the national rankings through Nov. 12, Emillie Toone is the No. 2 blocker (1.90 bpg). Meanwhile, the team ranks first in blocks per game (3.76), seventh in win-loss percentage (.920), 10th in hitting (.284), 17th in kills (16.55) and 26th in assists (15.06).
Poll Position - Utah is currently ranked No. 9 in the latest poll ... it has been ranked in the CSTV/AVCA coaches poll a total of 73 times ... the highest-ever ranking was No. 8 on Sept. 9, 2002 ... the Utes have been ranked in the top 10 a total of nine times. They were top 10 three times in 2001 and six 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 ... Utah has held 13 of its last 14 opponents to under .200 hitting. Six of those opponents didn't even top the .100 plateau ... Utah had 23.5 team blocks at Colorado State last weekend. That was the second 20-plus block match for the Utes this season, having chalked up 27 team blocks at Wyoming (10/14) ... Utah is 18-0 in three-game matches, 6-2 in four-game affairs and 1-0 in five-gamers ... they are also 23-4 in games one and two and three, 7-2 in game four and 1-0 in game five.
Scouting the Opponents:
No. 9 Air Force - Should Air Force (3-24, 0-16 MWC) win the play-in match, Utah would face it for the third time this season. The Utes beat AFA, 3-0, in both matches and own the 19-0 all-time series lead. The last meeting was during the final weekend of play when Utah swept the Falcons on the road. Leading the Falcons are Katie Batchelder (2.62 kills), Jocelyn Booker (.177 hitting), Kim Kallabis (6.80 assists), Kristina Stewart (2.16 digs) and Michelle Harrington (0.76 blocks).
No. 8 New Mexico - The Lobos (9-19, 11-5 MWC) would play Utah for the third time if they win the play-in match. Utah won the matches by a 3-0 count at home and a 3-1 favor in Albuquerque, N.M. Utah owns the all-time series lead, 37-27. Pacing the Lobos this season are Jeanne Fairchild (3.33 kills), Kelly Therkelsen (.228 hitting), Sarah Kwasigroch (10.63 assists), Gayle Tripp (4.37 digs) and Joelle Ingram (1.17 blocks).
The Rest of the Field - Utah vs: Brigham Young, 2-0 in 2006, 21-54 all-time; Colorado State, 2-0 in 2006, 21-43 all-time; San Diego State, 2-0 in 2006, 18-17 all-time; TCU, 2-0 in 2006, 7-0 all-time; UNLV, 2-0 in 2006, 22-1 all-time; Wyoming, 2-0 in 2006, 37-23 all-time.
Utah in the MWC Tournament - Utah is 17-6 all-tme. It is: 1-0 against Air Force; 4-1 against Brigham Young; 2-3 against Colorado State; 1-1 against New Mexico; 2-0 against San Diego State; 1-0 against TCU; 3-1 against UNLV; and 3-0 against Wyoming.
Last Week - The Utes chalked up their school-record tying 25th win of the season by topping Air Force (30-19, 30-17, 30-22) and Colorado State (30-28, 28-30, 30-21, 32-30)
The Utes hit .241 against the Falcons and were led by the 20-kill effort of Airial Salvo and the 10-kill outing of Lori Baird. Sydney Anderson and Shannon Krug set the attack in handing out 13 and 26 assists, respectively.
The Falcons held the 6-5.5 edge in team blocks while Utah held AFA to a meager .040 hitting. Baird's five total blocks and Connie Dangerfield's 17 digs led the Ute defense.
Whitney Webb's 18 kills led the Utes' attack at CSU as Utah finished the match to hit .254. Salvo chimed in with 14 kills and Emillie Toone had 12. Anderson dished out 50 assists and also had 13 digs and seven blocks.
Utah had an astounding 23.5 blocks to CSU's 4.5, holding the Rams to just .155 hitting. Toone's 14 total blocks led the Ute defense as did the 18-dig effort by Dangerfield.
Upcoming - The Utes' season will continue should it get invited to the NCAA Tournament's field of 64. The 2006 Division I Women's Volleyball Championship Selection announcement show will air live on Sunday, Nov. 26, on ESPNEWS. It will be televisied between the 1 and 1:30 p.m. (MST).