No. 17 Utah Sweeps No. 21 Washington State Wednesday Night
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 17 Utah volleyball began its final week of the regular season in fashion Wednesday night at the Huntsman Center, downing the No. 21-ranked Washington State Cougars in straight sets (25-22, 25-18, 25-23). Led by Dani Drews' 21 kills, which was just one shy of tying her own program record for a three-set match, Utah improved to 20-8 overall and 13-6 in Pac-12 play.
Drews' 21 kills marked the most by a Ute in three sets this season, while Vanessa Ramirez tied a career-high 21 digs in tonight's outing, which had been previously set in a five-set match, and is the most digs by a Ute in three sets this season. Also having a stellar night, Stef Jankiewicz led the offense with 43 assists, which ties the most assists in a three-set match for Jankiewicz this season.
Utah pushed out to a 9-5 lead early in the first set following four unanswered points and later went on to hold a 15-10 lead at the midway point. A kill from Zoe Weatherington began a 5-0 run that saw four consecutive kills and a block from Amelia Van Der Werff and Stef Jankiewicz, which extended the lead to 21-12.
With the set looking in control for the Utes, the Cougars cut the gap to just 22-18 following a 5-0 run. Utah earned its first set point from Dani Drews' sixth kill of the frame to put the score at 24-19, but three points in a row from Washington State forced the Utes to talk it over with the lead now sitting at 24-22. After four set points, Utah ultimately took the set after a long rally ended in an attack error from the Cougars.
The Utes found themselves trailing 15-11 in the second set after the Cougars began to get some momentum. Out of a timeout, Weatherington recorded a kill and a 4-0 run ensued for Utah to tie the set 15-15. Washington State converted the next play to regain the lead 16-15, but couldn't contain Utah as it scored five unanswered to pull ahead 20-16. The momentum wouldn't stop despite a Cougars kill and the Utes would end up outscoring Washington State 10-2 to end the second set, winning 25-18. Drews wrapped up the set with nine kills, while Jankiewicz posted 16 assists.
With the lead 2-0 for Utah, the two top-25 squads went back and forth nearly the entire third set. The frame saw 11 tied scores and seven lead changes. The largest lead of the set came later on with Utah pulling ahead 19-15 after going on a 3-0 run. The small run of points proved to be the difference maker as the Utes managed to hold onto the lead all the way to 24-20 after another Drews kill. Washington State put in its best rally attempts after scoring three straight to cut the lead to 24-23, but out of the Utah timeout the match would end on a Cougar attack error.
Drews added 15 digs to her 21 kills for a team-high 11th double-double this season. Adding to the firepower of Drews, Weatherington had another terrific match after posting 11 kills on .444 hitting, while Madelyn Robinson added nine kills.
Joining Ramirez and Drews on the back row was Megan Yett, who posted a season-high 14 digs. Kiley McMurtrey led the team with two aces, while Amelia Van Der Werff collected three blocks.
Utah volleyball will close out its regular season slate this Saturday, Nov. 27 against the Colorado Buffaloes at 12 p.m. MT for senior day in Salt Lake City. Utah will honor Drews, Jankiewicz, Robinson, Phoebe Grace and McMurtrey in their final match at the Huntsman Center. The match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, and will have Bill Riley on the call as the talent.