No. 16 Utes Fall In Five Sets To No. 13 Bruins
SALT LAKE CITY – The top-20 match in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday night came down to the very last points in the decisive fifth set where No. 16 Utah volleyball would ultimately fall to No. 13 UCLA (20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 17-19) on Friday night. With a fifth set that saw seven lead changes and 11 tie scores, the Utes couldn't capitalize on two match points and dropped to 15-7 this season overall and 8-5 in Pac-12 play.
Utah's outside hitters Dani Drews and Madelyn Robinson had the hot hands all night and hit .375 and .378, respectively. Drews matched her season high of 29 kills she had just recorded on Sunday, while Robinson posted a career-high 20 kills. Both of the pin hitters, along with Stef Jankiewicz, recorded double-doubles to lead the team. Jankiewicz dished out a season-high 52 assists and tallied a match-high 14 digs.
The Utes fell into a quick 7-1 deficit in the first set and were unable to get back in the opening frame. Utah put together strings of points, but could not contain the UCLA spurts of points to ever cut into the lead. Utah's best effort came from a 7-1 run to cut the lead to just 24-20, but a Bruin kill ended the first set. Robinson was hot out of the gates for the Ute offense as she totaled seven kills in the first set.
Utah came out in the second set and played from ahead after scoring six of eight points to lead 15-10. The momentum wasn't sustained for Utah and UCLA would go on to outscore the Utes 10-4 and take a 20-19 lead. Drews ended the big run and sparked a 6-1 run to even the match at 1-1, winning the second set 25-21. Led by Drews' whopping nine kills on .615 hitting, Utah recorded a .452 hitting percentage as a unit to fend off the hot-hitting from UCLA.
Like the first set, Utah was forced to play from behind after letting up a run of points and falling behind 16-10. The Utes cut the lead to three points on a few occasions, but couldn't quite catch the Bruins. A kill from Amelia Van Der Werff finally brought the set to just 23-21, however a kill from UCLA's Mac May gave the Bruins their first set point. Although Drews connected for back-to-back kills, UCLA took the set off an attack error to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth set began with little separation until Utah managed to break away with a 4-1 run, taking a 15-11 lead. Utah held onto to the lead and used three kills from Robinson and another kill from Drews to build a commanding 22-16 lead late in the set. With a sense of urgency, Utah wasted no time and finished the set with a block, kill and service ace to win 25-18 and head to the fifth set.
The dramatic fifth set started with Utah jumping out to a 4-0 lead, which forced UCLA to burn its first timeout. Not long after, the Bruins stormed back to take a 6-5 lead before the teams started to go back and forth from there. Each team scored a few points at a time until down the stretch it was UCLA that had scored consecutive points for a 14-13 match point. Utah earned the sideout, but another UCLA kill brought its second match point where Utah would once again fend off the Bruins with a kill from Drews.
Utah turned the tides and earned its first set point (16-15) after Drews tallied another kill, but the Bruins were there for another sideout to extend the game. Drews put Utah back on top and after what seemed to be the winning point in the books off an attack error, UCLA challenged the call and had it overturned to tie the match at 17-17. The Bruins then went on to score the final two points and leave Salt Lake City with the 3-2 victory.
Along with the production from Drews and Robinson, Van Der Werff and Zoe Weatherington each added eight kills, while Van Der Werff totaled six blocks. Jankiewicz also added four blocks on Friday night. Vanessa Ramirez posted 13 digs, while Robinson added 13 digs and Drews added 11 digs to complete their double-doubles. Kiley McMurtrey led Utah with two service aces. Utah led UCLA in kills, hitting percentage, assists and digs in the loss.
No. 16 Utah will be back in action this Sunday, Nov. 7 against USC. The Utes and Trojans will play at 12 p.m. MT in the Huntsman Center and the match will be televised on Pac-12 Mountain.