No. 15 Utah Volleyball Begins Pac-12 Play At No. 6 Washington and No. 24 Colorado
Match 11: #15 Utah (7-2) at #24 Colorado (9-0)
Friday, Sept. 24 | 7 p.m. MT
Boulder, Colo. | CU Events Center
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Live Stats: CU Stats
No. 15 Utah volleyball continues its stretch of road matches this Wednesday, Sept. 22, against No. 6 Washington in Seattle to open conference play. The Utes and Huskies will matchup at 9 p.m. MT at Alaska Airlines Arena and the match will be televised on ESPNU. Mike Monaco and Salima Rockwell will be on the call for the nationally televised match.
Utah will then close out the road trip with a contest against the No. 24 Colorado Buffaloes on Friday, Sept. 24. First serve is set for 7 p.m. MT at the CU Events Center. The match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks and will have Thad Anderson serving as the talent.
• Utah is ranked No. 15 in the nation this week and has been ranked in the AVCA Coaches poll for 33 consecutive weeks, dating back to Sept. 2, 2019.
• Utah is 7-3 overall in Pac-12 openers. The Utes had opened conference play against Colorado every season until last spring when Utah began the Pac-12 slate against Arizona.
• Utah is 94-105 (.472) in Pac-12 play all-time. The Utes are coming off a third-place effort last season in conference action (13-4) and finished tied for third place in 2019 (14-6).
• The pair of road matches this week for Utah will end a five-match road stretch. The Utes will return to Salt Lake City for a two-match home stand, but will then return to the road for four more matches.
• Vanessa Ramirez has hit double-digit digs in every match of the season and has led the Utes in digs in seven of the nine contests.
IN THE RANKINGS
• Dani Drews leads the Pac-12 and is tied for eighth in the nation with 4.79 kills per set.
• Utah is No. 12 in the nation in blocks per set (2.85).
• Utah is No. 33 in the nation in kills per set (13.73) and No. 43 in assists per set (12.45).
• Allie Olsen ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with 1.29 blocks per set and Kennedi Evans is sixth (1.28).
• Three Utes are ranked inside the top-nine of the conference in aces per set. Drews, Madelyn Robinson, and Megan Yett are tied for seventh with 0.36 aces per set this season.
Washington heads into conference play as the highest ranked team in the conference. The Huskies are 7-1 this season with the sole loss coming in four sets to Ohio State on the road. Washington returns all but one player from its Final Four appearance in the spring season and was picked as the conference favorite in the preseason, looking to defend its 2020-21 conference championship. Claire Hoffman is leading the Washington offense with 4.00 kills per set, while Marin Grote is ranked No. 23 in the nation with a .421 hitting percentage. The Huskies as a unit are ranked No. 11 in the country with a .296 hitting clip and are No. 35 in aces per set.
Colorado has gone undefeated to start the season and sits at 9-0 through non-conference play. The Buffs have picked up wins over Illinois, Iowa, Texas Tech and Xavier to highlight the season thus far. Colorado returns all but two players from the spring season and is led by sixth-year player Leah Clayton, who is No. 33 in the nation with 4.24 kills per set. Colorado is No. 18 in the country in blocks per set and No. 21 in kills per set. The Buffaloes also rank No. 26 in the country with a .270 hitting percentage. Brynna DeLuzio holds down the defense with 4.65 digs per set, while Jenna Ewert dishes out 10.38 assists per set to control the offense.
Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 and No. 12 in the nation with 2.85 blocks per set. Utah is led by its middle blockers Allie Olsen and Kennedi Evans, who rank fifth and sixth in the Pac-12, respectively, in blocks per set. Evans has collected 41 total blocks and Olsen has 36 blocks on the year. Utah has recorded 10 or more blocks in seven of nine matches this season after only recording four double-digit blocking efforts in the spring season.
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 1,845 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.
LAST TIME OUT
The Utes traveled south for a match against BYU and struggled to get the offense going in the loss. Utah hit .163 in the match and couldn't get going soon enough after falling into a large hole each set. BYU took advantage of the lead and was able to put Utah away in crunch time each time despite the late rallies. Madelyn Robinson led the way for Utah with 10 kills, while Dani Drews added seven kills. Vanessa Ramirez totaled 15 digs as well.
Utah volleyball will return to the Jon M. Huntsman Center after three weeks of road play, hosting Oregon State and Oregon in Salt Lake City. Utah and Oregon State will play on Friday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. MT, while Oregon will visit Utah on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 12 p.m. MT. Both matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.