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Beach Volleyball Heads To California For Six Matches This Weekend

Mar 30, 2022
Match 14: Utah (5-8) vs. The Master's University (10-11)
Friday, Apr. 1 | 11 a.m. MT
Irvine, Calif. | Laser Beach Facility
Match 17: Utah (5-8) vs. CSU Bakersfield (7-10)
Saturday, Apr. 2 | 2 p.m. MT
Irvine, Calif. | Laser Beach Facility
Match 15: Utah (5-8) vs. Concordia (Irvine) (17-3)
Friday, Apr. 1 | 2 p.m. MT
Irvine, Calif. | Laser Beach Facility
Match 18: Utah (5-8) vs. #9 Hawaii (15-6)
Sunday, Apr. 3 | 12:30 p.m. MT
Manhattan Beach, Calif. | Manhattan Beach Pier 
Match 16: Utah (5-8) at Irvine Valley College (6-7)
Saturday, Apr. 2 | 11 a.m. MT
Irvine, Calif. | Laser Beach Facility
Match 19: Utah (5-8) vs. #5 Loyola Marymount (18-1)
Sunday, Apr. 3 | 3:30 p.m. MT
Manhattan Beach, Calif. | Manhattan Beach Pier 

Utah Beach Volleyball returns to non-conference action this weekend, playing six matches in three days. The Utes will begin action in Irvine, Calif., taking on The Master's University and Concordia (Irvine) on Friday, Apr. 1. The matches will begin at 11 a.m. MT and 2 p.m. MT, respectively. On Saturday, Utah will face tournament hosts Irvine Valley College at 11 a.m. MT before playing CSU Bakersfield at 2 p.m. MT.
The highlight of the trip will be the opportunity to play at one of the nation's top beach volleyball environments – Manhattan Beach. Utah will play at Manhattan Beach Pier twice on Sunday, Apr. 3, with matches against No. 9 Hawaii and No. 5 Loyola Marymount. Utah and Hawaii will compete at 12:30 p.m. MT, while Utah and LMU will play at 3:30 p.m. MT.

• Utah picked up its first-ever regular season Pac-12 win last weekend when the Utes downed Oregon 3-2.
• Utah played four top-8 opponents in five matches last weekend in Arizona and will play a pair of top-10 teams this weekend in No. 9 Hawaii and No. 5 LMU.
• The freshman duo of Kylie Pitzak and Sydney Jacinto earned Utah's sole dual point against No. 8 Stanford on court five, while also earning the first point of the win against Oregon to go undefeated on day two of the Pac-12 South Invitational.
• Brenda Whicker is entering her fifth season at the helm of the program. The 2022 season is the first year Whicker has a roster filled with primarily beach-recruited student-athletes. There are just two indoor players on this year's roster.
• Utah will host its only home event of the year on Friday and Saturday, Apr. 22-23. Utah will welcome Salt Lake Community College, Arizona, Boise State, and Cal Poly to Salt Lake City.
• Utah has just four returners on this year's roster, while the team welcomed 10 newcomers. Eight of the 10 newcomers are freshmen, while the other two student-athletes joined the squad from the indoor volleyball team.
• Grace Andrews and Bella Vezzani have competed at the No. 1 position in all but the last match for Utah.
• Sage Patchell and Amaya Messier competed in the top spot for the first time this season against Oregon, while every other match has been played at the No. 2 spot for the duo.
• Marissa Koch/Samantha Leight and Lauren Sayre/Sommer Daniel have competed at courts three and four, respectively, in every match this season.
• Kylie Pitzak and Sydney Jacinto have played at the No. 5 position in the last six matches. Also seeing playing time on court five this season has been Sonja Wessel/Keira Sheehan, and Stef Jankiewicz/Pitzak.

Utah will be looking to get revenge over Concordia (Irvine) this weekend after dropping a close 3-2 match to Concordia in the opening weekend of the season. Utah will take on The Master's University for the first time this season and posted a 3-2 victory in the programs' first-ever meeting last season. The sole meeting against Irvine Valley College came during the 2020 season where the Utes pulled out a 3-2 victory as well. Wrapping up the opponents Utah will take on in Irvine is CSU Bakersfield, which Utah downed 4-1 in the 2018 season as the sole meeting between the teams in program history. The Utes are 0-4 against the powerhouse programs of Hawaii and Loyola Marymount.

Utah returns to Pac-12 play when it travels to Stanford, Calif., to compete in the Pac-12 North Invitational. The Utes open the conference weekend against Arizona and Washington on Saturday, Apr. 9, at 12 p.m. MT and 5 p.m. MT, respectively. The Utes then close out the weekend the following day against Arizona State at 9 a.m. MT and California at 12 p.m. MT.
The Utes welcome eight new freshmen to this year's team and are the first class of solely beach-recruited players. Bella Vezzani has jumped into the top spot for Utah in her first season, pairing with one of the few returners Grace Andrews. Vezzani hails from Castle Rock, Colo., where she was a AVCA All-Region selection. Contributing primarily at the No. 2 position to start the season is Amaya Messier, who also comes to the U. from Colorado. Messier was the 2019 AVP America Grand Prix winner, as well as a JVA Beach Volleyball Watchlist selection in 2019. Samantha Leight and Lauren Sayre have been holding down the third and fourth positions, respectively, while Keira Sheehan, Sonja Wessel, Sydney Jacinto and Kylie Pitzak have all earned time on court five. Jacinto and Pitzak are coming off two wins at the Pac-12 South Invitational last weekend after picking up a win over No. 8 Stanford's fifth pair before downing Oregon's duo to go undefeated on Sunday.

Utah's returners - Grace AndrewsMarissa Koch, and senior leader Sage Patchell – have made a presence at the top of the lineup all season long to lead the young Utah team. All three Utes played a key role in the team last season and have continued to step up this year. Andrews has held the top spot in all but the last match for Utah, while Patchell has competed on court two all year until switching courts with Andrews against Oregon on court one. Koch has been a consistent contributor on court three in every match this year. 
Utah Beach Volleyball welcomes 10 newcomers to the 14-person roster in 2022. Take a dive into some of our freshmen's stories and learn about their journey to the U.