Senior Kim Turner and the Utes return to the NCAA Tournament this Friday, Dec. 5.
Dec. 2, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY -
The Utah volleyball team (21-8) will make its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance as the Utes face No. 13 Santa Clara (20-10) in the first round of the tournament at the University of Washington at 4:30 p.m. (PDT) this Friday, Dec. 5. The other first-round match places host and No. 14 Washington (20-8) against Northwestern (18-14). All four teams received at-large berths in the tournament.
A QUICK LOOK AT UTAH:
It was a night of milestones, tears and great volleyball as the Utes defeated Eastern Michigan in four games (30-23, 29-31, 30-25, 30-21) Saturday night. The night began with Utah honoring its three seniors Kim Turner, Jackie Morrill and Taryn Horner. Turner entered the match needing just one kill to break the career kills record, as she was tied at 1,565 with Brenda Barton-Whicker. The senior made quick work of the record, ripping a kill on just the second point of the match. She would finish with 18 kills, a season-high 12 blocks and seven digs. Morrill came into the match needing 10 digs to join the 1,000 digs club. She notched her 1,000th dig in the second game and went on to finish with 16 on the night. Leading the way offensively for Utah was junior Lyndsey Henderson. Henderson posted a career-high 20 kills. Shelly Sommerfeldt rounded out three Utes in double figure kills with 16. Junior setters Tracy Neumeier and Kelsie Kartchner finished with 32 and 24 assists, respectively. Kartchner also added 10 digs, seven kills and three blocks.
On the season, the Utes are led by Turner, who ranks 17th nationally in blocks (1.54). She also averages 4.23 kills and 2.13 digs per game. Sommerfeldt adds 3.69 kills per game, while Morrill averages a team-high 3.40 digs per game. Neumeier averages 8.70 assists per game, while Kartchner has an 8.11 assists per game average.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
The Broncos (20-10), also making a sixth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, finished second in the West Coast Conference with an 11-3 league mark. Santa Clara has played 19 of its 30 matches this season against teams in the field of 64, posting a 9-10 record.
Santa Clara dropped its 2003 regular-season finale to No. 6 Stanford 3-1 (24-30, 30-25, 30-22, 30-22) last Friday. Becky Potter led the Broncos with 20 kills, while Toni Muratore added 17 and Becky Biniek chipped in 12. Kelli Sousa had a match-high 57 assists on the evening to go along with her 12 digs. Kristen Luxton had 14 digs in the loss.
The Broncos are led this season by Potter, who averages 4.35 kills, 3.18 digs and 1.17 blocks per game. Muratore adds 3.63 kills, while Jac Heler posts a team-high 3.64 digs per game. Sousa averages 13.73 assists per game.
The No. 14 Huskies (20-8), which posted 20 wins for the first time since 1997, closed out regular-season play with a 3-0 sweep (30-14, 30-16, 30-16) of Utah Valley State on Nov. 25. Washington posted a .333 hitting percentage, while the Wolverines hit just -.010. The Huskies also recorded 15 service aces, including five apiece from Sanja Tomasevic and Courtney Thompson. Tomasevic led Washington with 12 kills and 13 digs for her 13th double double of the season. Brie Hagerty added nine kills, while libero Candace Lee led the defense with eight digs.
Washington is led this season by Tomasevic, who averages 5.30 kills per game, 17th-best in the nation. Hagerty adds 3.47 kills per game, while Lee posts a team-high 4.26 digs per game. Thompson averages 14.01 assists per game.
The Huskies are making their second straight NCAA appearance and eighth overall. Last season, Washington made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1997 and defeated Colorado State in the first round before falling to Hawaii. Washington's best NCAA finish came in 1997 when the Huskies advanced to the Sweet 16.
The Wildcats (18-14) fell to Michigan in four games (17-30, 29-31, 30-24, 28-30) to close out regular-season play last Saturday. Senior Iwona Lodzik punched out a match-high 20 kills while compiling eight digs. Erika Lange added 17 kills and eight blocks in the loss.
Northwestern is led this season by Lodzik, with 4.52 kills and 3.13 digs per game, and Lange, who averages 3.73 kills and 1.48 blocks per game. Setter Drew Robertson averages 12.99 assists and 2.45 digs per game.
This is Northwestern's second-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Last year, Northwestern lost a five-game thriller to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were one of seven Big Ten teams to earn an invite to this year's championship. The Big Ten led all conferences with the most tourney entrants.
* The Utes trail the all-time series with Santa Clara 1-3. The last time the two teams met, on Sept. 21, 1996, Utah won 3-2 in Logan, Utah. The Utes are 0-0 at home, 0-0 away and 1-3 at a neutral site vs. the Eagles.
* The Utes lead the all-time series with Washington 5-3. The two teams last met on Sept. 10, 1994, in Salt Lake City, with the Huskies winning 3-1. Utah is 1-1 at home, 0-0 away and 4-2 at a neutral site vs. the Huskies.
* Should Utah advance to Saturday's match and face Northwestern, it will be the first-ever meeting of the two teams.
NCAA TOURNAMENT MATCH(ES) TO BE WEBCAST:
Utah's first-round match vs. Santa Clara will be broadcast live via the Internet. Should the Utes advance to the second round, that match would also be broadcast. To listen, go to the volleyball page at www.utahutes.com and click on "Listen to Ute Matches Live."
UTAH TOURNAMENT TIDBITS:
Utah is 5-5 this season vs. the other 63 teams in this year's field. In its 29-year history, Utah has faced 50 of the teams in the 2003 NCAA Tournament with a 110-211 (.343) all-time record.
UTES AND THE NCAA TOURNAMENT:
Utah qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1998, receiving an at-large bid as the No. 8 seed in the Pacific Region. Utah defeated ninth-seeded Illinois State in three games in the first round, then lost to No. 1-seeded Nebraska in four games in the second round.
In 1999, Utah, seeded No. 9 in the Mountain Region, defeated eighth-seeded Colorado in three games in the first round and lost to top-seeded Hawaii in three games in the second round.
The following year, in 2000, the Utes were the No. 8 seed in the West Region and defeated Texas Tech, 3-2, in the first round the tourney. The team then lost to Hawaii, 3-0, in the second round.
The 2001 team hosted the NCAA first and second rounds, defeating Texas Tech and Utah State at home, before concluding the season with a loss in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Stanford. It was the first time in Utah volleyball history that a team had advanced to the Sweet 16.
Last year, Utah fell in three game to Texas A&M in the first round of the tournament at USC.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Beth Launiere:
On facing Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament- "Santa Clara has had a pretty good season. They finished second in a tough conference and are a strong team. Our only focus right now is Santa Clara."
On Utah's draw this year as compared to last year - "I'm really happy with our draw. Seattle is a really fun town and it's close, so family can go. Anytime you can play in your time zone or one time zone away, it's always a nice thing. If there's anything we learned from last year, it's that wherever you get sent, you go and enjoy the fact that you're playing in the national tournament, the big dance."
On how the Utes have been playing lately - "I think we're playing the best volleyball of the season right now. Our seniors are providing great leadership and good things happen at this time of the season when you have strong leadership."
SINGLE SEASON RECORDS:
With at least one match (minimum) left this season, seniors Jackie Morrill and Kim Turner have moved into the Top 10 in various single-season statistical categories. Morrill's 364 digs ranks 10th all-time. Turner currently ranks first in hitting percentage (.361), seventh in block assists (141), ninth in total blocks (165) and 10th in kills (453).
TURNER BECOMES ALL-TIME KILLS LEADER AT UTAH:
Senior All-America candidate Kim Turner notched her 1,566th career kill in last Saturday's match against Eastern Michigan, placing her in first-place all-time in the Ute record book. She now has 1,583 kills on her career. She also ranks first in total blocks (665), block assists (586) and hitting percentage (.325), third in block solos (79) and fourth in attempts (3,237).
MORRILL JOINS 1,000-DIG CLUB:
Senior libero Jackie Morrill has 1,006 digs on her career, good for fifth-place all-time in the Utah record books. She became just the fifth Ute to record 1,000 or more digs in last Saturday's match against Eastern Michigan.
Sophomore Shelly Sommerfeldt has posted double-digit kills in 24 of 29 matches this season. Her 15-match streak was ended in Utah's three-game win over Air Force on Oct. 31.
Kim Turner, the all-time Utah blocks leader, has recorded at least one block in the last 123 matches, dating back to her freshman year in 2000. In fact, the senior has at least one block in 125 of the 126 matches of her career at Utah. The only match in which she didn't record a block was Sept. 2, 2000, against New Hampshire, in just the third match of her career.
TURNER, MORRILL, SOMMERFELDT NAMED ALL-MWC:
For the second year in a row, Utah volleyball player Kim Turner was named MWC Co-Player of the Year. In addition, senior libero Jackie Morrill was named the conference's Top Libero, while sophomore Shelly Sommerfeldt was named to the 14-member all-conference team. Turner shared the top honor with Colorado State setter Melissa Courtney.
Turner is the first four-time all-conference honoree in MWC history. She led the conference in hitting percentage (.434) and points per game (5.61), and ranked second in kills (4.53) and blocks (1.47).
Morrill, who leads the Utes in digs, was named the Top Libero at the Utah Classic. In conference play, she ranked second in digs with a 3.53 average. Her 180 digs in MWC matches was the third best in the history of the league.
Sommerfeldt ranked seventh in the conference in points per game (4.07) and ninth in kills per game (3.51). She was named to the all-tournament team at the Utah Classic.
TURNER NAMED FIRST-TEAM ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT:
Kim Turner, co-captain of the Utah women's volleyball team, was recently named to the Academic All-District VIII Team. Turner garnered first-team honors with a 3.646 GPA as an elementary education major.
Should Utah defeat Santa Clara, it will face the winner of the Washington/Northwestern match at 7 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, Dec. 6, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.