No. 10 Utah Volleyball Closes Out Non-Conference Play At No. 15 BYU Thursday Night
No. 10 Utah volleyball is set for its final non-conference match of the season this Thursday, Sept. 16, taking on the No. 15 BYU Cougars at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah. First serve for the Utes and Cougars will be at 7 p.m. MT and the match will be aired on BYUtv. Jarom Jordan will serve as the play-by-play announcer, while Amy Gant will be on air as the analyst.
• Utah jumped to No. 10 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll ranking and is the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team.
• Utah's upset over No. 3 Nebraska on the road is the first win over an opponent ranked that high since the Utes beat No. 2 Washington in 2014 in Salt Lake City. The win is the program's highest ranked road victory all-time. Utah's highest wins in program history are over No. 1 Stanford (2000) and No. 2 Washington (2014) at home, and now at No. 3 Nebraska (2021). The win marked the 13th win over a top-10 team in program history.
• Dani Drews is coming off her 55th-straight match of 10 or more kills and the 96th of her career.
• Vanessa Ramirez has hit double-digit digs in every match of the season and has led the Utes in digs in six of the eight outings.
IN THE RANKINGS
• Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 and No. 12 in the nation with 2.93 blocks per set.
• Utah ranks tied for third in the Pac-12 and No. 18 in the nation with 14.07 kills per set.
• Utah is second in the Pac-12 and No. 29 in the nation with 12.67 assists per set.
• Dani Drews leads the Pac-12 and is No. 6 in the nation in kills per set, averaging 5.00.
• Kennedi Evans is third in the Pac-12 and No. 41 in the nation with 1.34 blocks per set.
• Allie Olsen is fourth in the Pac-12 and No. 50 in the nation with 1.32 blocks per set.
Dani Drews was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday afternoon for performances against Weber State and then-No. 3 Nebraska, which led to her selection as the Sports Import/AVCA Player of the Week award. Drews is just the third player ever at Utah to earn the national player of the week selection, joining Adora Anae (2017) and Brenda Barton-Whicker (1997). Drews' selection comes after she led Utah with a season-high 27 kills and 16 digs in Lincoln, aiding the Utes in a five-set thriller where Utah rallied from down 0-2 to start the match against the Huskers. The Sandy, Utah native also kicked off the weekend on a high note, posting an incredible 6.0 kills per set against Weber State with zero hitting errors, recording a hitting percentage of .486 in the sweep over the Wildcats. She also posted a season-high 20 digs in just three sets of play.
BYU heads into the rivalry match sitting at 8-1 on the season with the sole loss coming from No. 4 Pittsburgh in four sets. The Cougs have collected seven sweeps, while the other victory was a five-set win over Weber State. Heather Gneiting ranks second in the nation with a .522 hitting percentage, while BYU ranks fifth in the country as a unit hitting at a .316 clip. BYU is also ranked No. 10 in aces per set (2/17), No. 15 in opponent hitting percentage (.126), and No. 24 in kills per set (13.93). Utah and BYU last met in the NCAA Tournament Second Round in 2019 where Utah swept BYU at Smith Fieldhouse to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16.
LAST TIME OUT
Utah is coming off a string of three matches in five days, coming away with wins over Weber State and then-No. 3 Nebraska and the first loss of the season against Boise State. The Utes began the week with hot-hitting from their outsides Dani Drews and Madelyn Robinson, who combined for 37 kills and just five errors in the sweep. Robinson posted a career high 19 kills to lead the way, while Drews tied her career high of 20 digs in just three sets.
The Utes then went on to record the program's biggest road victory in history, knocking off No. 3 Nebraska in Lincoln. Utah began the match trailing 0-2, but rallied in the next three sets to hold off the Huskers. Drews led the squad with 27 kills, Zoe Weatherington posted a career-high 17 kills, and Vanessa Ramirez collected a career-high 21 digs. Megan Yett also had a career day behind the line where she totaled a career-high five services aces.
Utah couldn't keep the momentum going and dropped its first match of the season at Boise State to end the road trip. The Utes struggled to find rhythm offensively and the Broncos took advantage and won in four sets.
Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 and No. 12 in the nation with 2.93 blocks per set. Utah is led by its middle blockers Kennedi Evans and Allie Olsen, who rank third and fourth in the Pac-12, respectively, in blocks per set. Evans had collected 39 total blocks and Olsen has 33 blocks on the year. Also stepping up for the Utes is right side Zoe Weatherington, who has totaled 28 blocks. Utah has recorded 10 or more blocks in six of eight matches this season and only posted four double-digit blocking efforts in the spring season. Utah has won every match it has led in blocks.
A number of Utes recorded career highs over the three-match weekend to continue Utah's great start to the season. Against Weber State, Dani Drews tied a career-high in digs (20), while Madelyn Robinson recorded a career-best 19 kills and Vanessa Ramirez earned a career-high 10 assists. Abby Karich also earned her first career kill and Kamry Bailey tallied her first career digs. Against Nebraska, Ramirez earned a career high in digs (21), Megan Yett totaled a career-best in aces (5), Zoe Weatherington posted a career high in kills (17), and Robinson matched a career high in digs (12).
Dani Drews, who is a three-time All-American, has already set numerous program records during her Ute career and could have the chance to become Utah's all-time kill leader. Drews has totaled 1,837 kills and sits second all-time in career kills behind former Utah teammate Adora Anae. Anae holds the program record at 1,920 kills.
Drews holds the single-season program record in kills (643, 2019) and the single-match record in kills in the rally-scoring era in three sets (22, 2018), four sets (30, 2x) and five sets (33, 2019). Drews also became the program's first-ever Pac-12 Player of the Year, the program's only two-time AVCA Pacific South Region Player of the Year, as well the only player to earn two AVCA First Team All-American awards.
Utah opens conference play next Wednesday, Sept. 22 against the No. 7-ranked Washington Huskies in Seattle. The Utes and Huskies will play at 9 p.m. MT at Alaska Airlines Arena on ESPNU. Utah will then turn around and travel to Colorado for a match on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. MT in Boulder, Colo.