No. 19 Utah Defeats Hawaii To Win Utah Classic
SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 19-ranked University of Utah volleyball team (5-0) took the final match of the Utah Classic over Hawaii (2-4) on Saturday night to complete an undefeated weekend of play and remain perfect on the season. The Utes downed the Rainbow Wahine in four sets (25-15, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22) in the Jon M. Huntsman Center to win the Utah Classic.
Fresh off a ranked win last night, Utah's defense got it going early and it was Utah's blocking that made a key difference in the first set, and in the entire match where it led Hawaii with 14 total blocks to just seven. Utah collected five blocks in the opening frame, and with the help of 16 digs, Utah limited the Hawaii offense to a -0.24 hitting percentage in the opening set.
The teams traded points to start the first set, but Utah began to break it open at the midway point and with a lead at 16-14, the Utes rattled off six consecutive points to take a 22-14 lead. A Rainbow Wahine sideout didn't stop the momentum for Utah and a trio of points ensued for the squad, which was topped off by a block from Phoebe Grace and Stef Jankiewicz to end the set 25-15.
The stifling defense continued in the second set and neither team could find a rhythm offensively. Utah's blockers continued to dominate the net with Grace leading the way with five blocks, but it was Hawaii that came out on top in the frame after evening the match with a 25-23 second-set win. The teams traded points until the score was 19-19 and Hawaii used a 5-2 run to have set point at 24-21. A Utah timeout managed to rally two more points and contend for the set, but a Hawaii kill ended the hopes of a comeback.
Utah came out of the quick intermission and built a lead early in the third set, leading by as many as five points. The Rainbow Wahine bounced back and tied the set at 9-9, and stayed within a few points of Utah as long as they could until Utah went on a 5-0 run to control the set at 22-16. Not wasting any time, Utah finished off Hawaii and moved to the next set with a 2-1 lead after taking the third set 25-18. The Utes posted four service aces to make a key difference toward the end of the set.
Utah had its best hitting performance of the night in the fourth set, but Hawaii did the same to keep the set competitive. The Utes hit a clip of .417 as a team, which was led by Drews' five kills on zero errors. The score was close to start again and with the score at a Ute lead of 9-8, Utah scored five of the next seven points to push the lead to 14-10.
Hawaii scored a string of points to cut the Ute lead to just one point later on, but a pair of kills from Madelyn Robinson put Utah back in a position to close out the set at 20-17. Hawaii wasn't giving up just yet and recorded a 4-1 run to trail just 21-20 to the Utes. Drews collected her final kill of the match for a crucial sideout, but Hawaii matched the sideout with a kill of their own.
Jankiewicz tallied a kill the next play to regain the two point lead at 23-21, and after an attack error from Hawaii, Robinson put a kill down to finish the match and keep Utah's undefeated season alive.
Drews was named the Utah Classic MVP, while Zoe Weatherington also earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team for her performances in the three-match event for Utah. Drews continued her hot streak offensively and posted double-digit kills for the 52nd-straight match. She finished the night with 19 kills (.341) and also had eight digs. Weatherington wrapped up her fantastic weekend with 10 kills for the Utes.
Jankiewicz posted her second-straight double-double, collecting 32 assists and 12 digs. Vanessa Ramirez hit 10-plus digs for the third consecutive match after tallying 13 tonight. Utah's stellar blocking performance was led by Hawaii native Phoebe Grace (9.0), while Robinson and Kennedi Evans each posted 5.0 blocks. Drews and Robinson each recorded three aces as well for Utah.
Utah will be back in action this Thursday, Sept. 9, to take on the Weber State Wildcats. The Utes and Wildcats will play at the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m. MT. Utah will then look to a road match against No. 4-ranked Nebraska on Saturday, Sept. 11 in Lincoln, Neb.