No. 7 Volleyball Hosts USC for Pair of Weekend Matches
Match 7-8: No. 7 Utah (6-0) vs. USC (1-3)
Friday, February 12 and Sunday, February 14 | 3 p.m. MT and 12 p.m. MT
Salt Lake City, Utah | Huntsman Center
TV: Pac-12 Network
The No. 7 Utah volleyball team returns home after two weekends on the road to take on USC, who sits at 1-3.
Utah is off to its best start in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011 at 6-0. The Utes started the season off by sweeping Arizona before hitting the road for two straight weeks and beating Cal and Arizona State.
USC has only played four matches as its Stanford matches the opening week were canceled. They split their first matches with Oregon State before falling in both matches to Oregon in five sets.
Utah swept USC last season for the first time in program history.
The 6-0 start for Utah is the best start to Pac-12 play the team has had since joining the conference in 2011. The Utes have been dominant so far in sweeping four of the six matches against Arizona, Cal and Arizona State.
In 2017, Utah was 8-1 in Pac-12 play, but dropped their third match of the conference season in that stretch.
Utah will look to make it 8-0 this weekend as USC is traveling to Salt Lake City for two matches.
UTES REACH HIGHEST RANKING EVER
The Utes are ranked seventh in the latest AVCA poll giving them the highest ranking in program history.
They previously had been ranked 8th for two weeks in a row matching a program high. Utah has been ranked eighth twice before with the last time coming in 2002.
Initially, the team was ranked 10th in the preseason rankings.
A big reason why Utah is 6-0 is because Dani Drews has been playing at a very high level.
The two-time All-American has 111 kills hitting .321.
Against Arizona State, she posted 51 kills for the weekend hitting .358 overall. In Friday night's match, Drews had the fourth 30-kill match of her career.
With that effort, she was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks.
BETH CLOSING IN ON 600 WINS
Head coach Beth Launiere came into the season with 588 career wins. With the 6-0 start, she is now sitting at 594 wins and just six away from 600.
In her 31 seasons, she has built Utah's program to what it is now. The reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year has also been named AVCA Region Coach of the Year four times and has led Utah to 18 20-win seasons.
Utah has hit .291 as a team so far this season with three of the six matches over .300. The .291 mark is the second highest in the Pac-12 behind Colorado who has played in only four matches.
The Utes are also leading the Pac-12 averaging 14.0 kills per set.
Each Sunday match so far, Utah has ramped up the efficiency hitting .368 against Arizona, .391 against Cal and then hit .317.
In those Sunday matches, the team has only made 29 errors on 275 swings.
To go along with the efficient offense, Utah has held their opponents to an .090 hitting percentage. The highest a team has hit this season is .171 by Arizona State when Utah swept the Sun Devils.
The .090 mark is the best mark in the Pac-12 this season.
One of the big reason's they've been so strong on defense is the Utes lead the Pac-12 in digs per set with 15.62. Since they get so many digs, they're only allowing 8.52 kills per set. They are the only Pac-12 team allowing single-digit kills per set.
Utah will be in the Huntsman Center for the second straight week hosting the Oregon Ducks for two matches. The first of those matches will be on Thursday, February 18 at 3 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Network.