Utah Volleyball Heads To Purdue To Continue Non-Conference Play
Utah Volleyball will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., to compete in Purdue's home tournament. Utah will open the tournament with a neutral site match against Milwaukee on Friday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. MT. Later that day, Utah will face No. 11-ranked Purdue at 4:30 p.m. MT. The match between the Utes and Boilermakers will be televised on the Big Ten Network. To close out the weekend, Utah will play Bradley on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. MT in Holloway Gymnasium.
• Dating back to the 2019 season and running through this past weekend, Utah Volleyball was ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll for 45 consecutive weeks, which tied a school-record for most consecutive weeks ranked set during the 2000-02 seasons.
• Utah saw action from 14 different Utes in the opening weekend of play.
• Utah returns eight letterwinners from last year's squad, highlighted by AVCA Pacific South All-Region selection Madelyn Robinson, and welcomes eight newcomers.
• Utah is coming off its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 18th overall.
• The Utes finished third in the Pac-12 Conference for the third year in row, collecting a program-record tying 14 Pac-12 wins in 2021.
• Utah will play against 10 tournament teams from last year, including five Sweet 16 squads.
ROBINSON RUNNING IT BACK
Heading into her final season of college after taking advantage of a fifth year, Madelyn Robinson stepped right back into her leadership role this past weekend and led the Utes in kills every match. Robinson recorded double-digit kills all three matches and averaged 3.90 kills per set over the weekend. The AVCA All-Region and All-Pac-12 selection from a year ago also posted the second-most aces on the team in the opening weekend of play. Robinson ranked fifth among Pac-12 players in kills per set to start the year and was named a Preseason All-Pac-12 honoree prior to the 2022 campaign.
STARTING SETTER --> SMITH
Senior setter Emily Smith earned the starting setting spot for the Utes in the season opening weekend. Smith led the Utes to a .407 hitting percentage in the opener against Loyola Marymount as she matched a career-best 35 assists and saw three different pin hitters collect double-digit kills. Smith then went on to record a career-high 40 assists against Kansas, as well as 12 digs to earn her first double-double of the year and just the second of her career. The next day, Smith led Utah to another sweep with 32 assists to average 10.70 assists per set on the season, which ranks fourth in the conference.
WEST WORKIN' IT
Mixing with Utah's veteran players were a handful of newcomers last weekend, highlighted by the efforts of true freshman Ashley West. The Arvada, Colo., native earned the start at right side for the Utes and averaged 2.78 kills per set as the second-best offensive production on the team. West started off her Utah career in style with 10 kills on .692 hitting against LMU. West also posted eight kills against Utah Valley, which was the second-most by a Ute once again, along with a team-high four blocks on the day. Against No. 22 Kansas, West recorded seven kills and two blocks. She hit .333 over the three matches and is currently tied for the second-best hitting percentage on the team.
Milwaukee dropped to 0-3 to start the season after falling to Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Notre Dame last weekend. The Panthers are coming off a 22-9 season, which included a 16-2 slate in the Horizon League, and returned the 2021 Horizon League Player of the Year in Ari Miller, as well as the Freshman of the Year in Madi Malone. The squad graduated six seniors from last year's team. Through the first three matches, Milwaukee is led by Malone's 3.73 kills per set and Miller's 2.45 kills per set. Libero Sarah Schrader has averaged 4.18 digs per set to lead defensive efforts.
SCOUTING #11 PURDUE
Fresh off its Elite 8 run from a year ago, Purdue picked up where it left off and jumped out to a 3-0 start to the season. Purdue downed Bowling Green and Loyola Chicago in straight sets before defeating Tennessee in four sets. Eva Hudson was named Tournament MVP, while Madeline Koch and Maddie Schermerhorn also landed on the All-Tournament Team. Hudson averaged 4.70 kills per set, Koch averaged 2.40 kills per set and 1.20 blocks per set, and Schermerhorn posted 4.20 digs per set. The Boilermakers are No. 29 in the nation in hitting percentage (.299), while Hudson leads the Big Ten and ranks No. 24 in the country with 4.70 kills per set.
Bradley kicked off the season with a five-set win over Kansas City, while falling to Miami (OH) in five sets and No. 21 Western Kentucky in straight sets. The Braves return four starters that went 17-15 in 2021. Bradley is led by Mai Bertens Deckart and Karagan Coggin, who are averaging 3.35 and 2.54 kills per set, respectively. Kaitlynn Peterson averaged 4.00 digs per set over the weekend as well. Coggin was an All-Mississippi Valley Conference selection the past two seasons and landed on the preseason team as well.
Utah will face four teams in the top-25 during its non-conference slate with two matchups occurring inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center and the remaining two on the road. Utah opened its ranked battles against No. 23 Kansas in the season-opening weekend, while the Utes will get ready to face No. 11 Purdue this weekend. Wrapping up the ranked non-conference opponents will be No. 15 San Diego and No. 7 BYU before the gauntlet of Pac-12 play begins. Along with the ranked contests scheduled, Utah will play UConn, SMU and Utah State over the next few weeks. A full look at the non-conference and conference schedule can be found here.
Joining Madelyn Robinson and Emily Smith as notable returners making large contributions to the season following the first weekend of play was starting libero Vanessa Ramirez, middle blockers Amelia Van Der Werff and Allie Olsen, along with defensive specialists Kamry Bailey and Megan Yett. Defensively, Ramirez led the team with 2.90 digs per set and reached double-digit digs in two matches, while Bailey collected a team-best 14 digs against Kansas, which set a career high for the Ute sophomore.
Olsen landed a spot on the Utah Classic All-Tournament Team with Robinson after she finished the weekend hitting .394 with 2.00 kills per set and five blocks. Van Der Werff hit .300 and earned a team-best nine blocks to highlight the production of Utah's returning core with Robinson and Smith.
SEASON TICKET TIME
It is time to secure season tickets for the 2022 season to catch all of the action in the Huntsman Center. Help Utah Volleyball make the Huntsman Center the best home court advantage in the nation and visit UtahTickets.com to purchase tickets for $25 to watch all 15 home matches.
Utah will travel to San Diego to play in the final non-conference tournament of the season on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10. The Utes will open the event on Friday against SMU at 6 p.m. MT at Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, Calif. On Saturday, Utah will face UConn at 11 a.m. MT before playing the No. 15-ranked hosts San Diego at 8 p.m. MT.