Utah Beach Volleyball Set For Pac-12 Championships
Utah Beach Volleyball is set for the 2022 Pac-12 Championships this week, opening the three-day event on Wednesday, April 27, against the Oregon Ducks. The Utes and Ducks will play in the first match of the tournament at 10 a.m. MT at Bear Down Beach in Tucson, Ariz. All matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
The winner of the first-round matchup will take on reigning NCAA champions and top-seeded USC at 3 p.m. MT. With a loss, Utah will move to the contender's bracket and play at 4:15 p.m. MT against the loser of second-seeded UCLA/seventh-seeded Washington. The Pac-12 Championships is a double-elimination tournament hosted by No. 17-ranked Arizona. The full bracket can be found here.
Utah has played Oregon in the first round of every Pac-12 Championships since the program started in 2017. The Utes have gone 2-2 in matches against the Ducks while at the conference tournament with the wins coming during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Utah beat Oregon this season at the Pac-12 South Invitational, which marked the program's first-ever regular season Pac-12 win. Utah downed Oregon 3-2 after picking up wins from Kylie Pitzak and Sydney Jacinto (#5), and Marissa Koch and Samantha Leight (#3) to tie the match after falling behind 2-0 to start the day. Grace Andrews and Bella Vezzani (#2) would clinch the win in a three-set victory.
• Utah has played nine top-20 opponents this season.
• Brenda Whicker is in 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 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.
Utah has made history this season on a few occasions as the program continues to grow. This season, Utah earned its first-ever regular season Pac-12 win after downing Oregon 3-2 at the Pac-12 South Invitational. The program had previously earned its other conference wins at the Pac-12 Championships. Another milestone for Utah came back on April 5, as the Utes received votes in the AVCA Beach Volleyball Coaches poll for the first time in program history. Utah received two votes in the poll, ranking No. 25.
• Sage Patchell and Amaya Messier competed in the top spot for the first time in late March and have since competed there in every single match, while starting the season on court two before swapping places with Andrews and Vezzani.
• Grace Andrews and Bella Vezzani began the season at the No. 1 position and have played the past 11 matches on the second court. The duo is tied for the second-most wins this season with five, highlighted by the match-clinching point versus Oregon.
• Marissa Koch and Samantha Leight have competed at court three in every match this season. Koch/Leight have earned five wins as well.
• Lauren Sayre and Sommer Daniel have played on court four in every match this season and have posted a team-best eight wins, as well as a team-high .363 winning percentage.
• Kylie Pitzak and Sydney Jacinto have played at the No. 5 position for all but six matches this season and have recorded a 5-11 record. Also seeing playing time on court five this season has been Sonja Wessel/Keira Sheehan, and Stef Jankiewicz/Pitzak.
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, as well as senior Sage Patchell's journey.