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Utah Volleyball Heads To USD Invitational This Weekend in San Diego

Sep 6, 2022

Match 7: Utah (4-2) vs. SMU (5-1)
Friday, Sept. 9 | 6 p.m. MT
San Diego, Calif. | Jenny Craig Pavilion
Live Stats: USD Live Scoring
Match 8: Utah (4-2) vs. UConn (2-3)
Saturday, Sept. 10 | 11 a.m. MT
San Diego, Calif. | Jenny Craig Pavilion
Live Stats: USD Live Scoring
Match 9: Utah (4-2) at #12 San Diego (4-1)
Saturday, Sept. 10 | 8 p.m. MT
San Diego, Calif. | Jenny Craig Pavilion
Watch: WCC Network
Live Stats: USD Live Scoring
Utah Volleyball will compete in its final non-conference tournament of the year this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10, at the USD Invitational in San Diego, Calif. Utah opens the weekend against SMU on Friday at 6 p.m. MT before playing a pair of matches on Saturday against UConn and No. 12-ranked San Diego. The Utes will play UConn at 11 a.m. MT at Jenny Craig Pavilion and then will close out the weekend against the host Toreros at 8 p.m. MT, which will be live streamed on the WCC Network.

• Madelyn Robinson was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week following her efforts at the Purdue tournament last weekend. It is the first conference award of her career.
• Robinson and Vanessa Ramirez were named All-Tournament Team selections for performances last week. Robinson averaged 4.54 kills per set, while Ramirez posted 5.15 digs per set.
• Eleven Utes earned a career high in at least one statistical category this past weekend.
• Robinson has posted double-digit kills in every match this season, while Ramirez has collected 10 or more digs in all but one match.
• Utah received votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll for the second-straight week. Before narrowly sliding out of the top-25, 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.
• Vanessa Ramirez leads the Pac-12 Conference with 4.17 digs per set through the first two weeks of play.
• Madelyn Robinson ranks second in the Pac-12 with 4.26 kills per set and ranks No. 33 nationally.
• Allie Olsen is fourth in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.400), while Emily Smith is sixth in the conference in assists per set (9.77).
• Utah ranks fifth in the Pac-12 and No. 35 nationally with 13.78 kills per set.
Madelyn Robinson is coming off a week that earned her the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor after she posted 4.54 kills per set over the weekend. Robinson first tallied a career high 21 kills in Utah's five-set win over Milwaukee, while also adding a career-high 18 digs for her first double-double of the year. Then, the fifth year senior totaled a new career high of 26 kills against Purdue, along with 16 digs for another double-double. She closed out the tournament with a match-high 12 kills in the sweep over Bradley. Robinson has posted double-digit kills in every match this season and has led the Utes in kills all six matches.
Utah's junior libero Vanessa Ramirez has been on a roll this season, leading Utah's defensive efforts and through two weeks is leading the Pac-12 Conference. Ramirez is averaging a league-best 4.17 digs per set and is coming off a weekend where she posted two matches of 20-plus digs, which were both career high marks. She first posted a personal-best 25 digs against Milwaukee before upping the career high to 27 digs, which she recorded against Purdue. Ramirez also matched a career-best 10 assists against Purdue to record her first double-double of the season and third of her career. She closed out the weekend with 15 digs against Bradley and has reached 10 or more digs in all but one match this season. Ramirez has also tied for the most or had the most digs by any Ute in all but one match.
Emily Smith earned the starting setter position for the Utes in her senior season and has guided the Utes offense with 9.77 assists per set. Smith is coming off a career weekend after posting a career-best 43 assists against Milwaukee before earning a new personal best of 48 assists vs. Purdue. She earned 11 digs in both five-set matches to collect a pair of double-doubles. Smith has now posted a team-high three double-doubles this year. Smith led the Utes to a .407 hitting percentage in the season opener against Loyola Marymount and saw three different pin hitters collect double-digit kills.
Over the span of the Purdue Tournament, Utah received career-high contributions from 11 different Utes between the three matches in at least one statistical category – if not more. Producing career highs in kills over the weekend were Ashley West (11, at Purdue), Lauren Jardine (14, vs. Milwaukee), KJ Burgess (6, vs. Bradley), Madelyn Robinson (26, at Purdue), and Allie Olsen (10, vs. Milwaukee). Leading the offense was Emily Smith, who earned a career-high 48 assists vs. Purdue, along with Viktoria Wahlgren, who saw the first action of her career and totaled a career-best 12 assists against Bradley. Defensively, Utes who recorded a career high in digs were Abby Karich (11, vs. Milwaukee), Iliana Linahan (4, against Bradley), Kamry Bailey (15, vs. Bradley), Robinson (18, vs. Milwaukee) and Vanessa Ramirez (27, at Purdue).
SMU is coming off an undefeated weekend at the Islanders Classic where the Mustangs did not drop a set over three matches. SMU swept Sam Houston, Indiana and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The weekend prior, SMU downed UC Irvine and DePaul before falling to Stephen F. Austin. The Mustangs are led by Jamison Wheeler and Natalie Perdue, who are averaging 3.95 kills per set and 3.86 k/s. Celia Cullen dishes out 10.72 assists per set and ranks No. 21 in the nation, while Casey Batenhorst averages 3.75 digs per set. SMU is No. 40 in the country in assists per set (12.67) and No. 52 in kills per set (13.52).
UConn is coming off consecutive losses to Army and then No. 20-ranked Kansas this past weekend despite opening the tournament with a sweep over St. Francis. During the season opening weekend, UConn fell to then No. 20-ranked Penn State and followed with a straight-set victory over Duquesne. UConn's Madi Whitmire leads the offense with 9.19 assists per set, while Taylor Pannell records 1.06 blocks per set, which ranks second in the Big East. Jasmine Davis leads the team with 2.38 kills per set, while she ranks second in the conference with 0.50 aces per set. Karly Berkland has averaged 3.81 digs per set to lead the defense.
San Diego is off to a hot start this season as the Toreros kicked off the year with a five-set win over then No. 6-ranked Pitt. San Diego picked up a pair of sweeps over Texas A&M and Hawaii in the opening weekend as well. San Diego then dropped a four-set match to then No. 3-ranked Louisville, but turned around and picked up an impressive sweep against then No. 8-ranked Ohio State. San Diego has been led by Leyla Blackwell's efforts at the net after she has averaged 1.78 blocks per set, which ranks fifth in the nation. Gabby Blossom dishes out 10.89 assists per set and is No. 17 in the country. Blossom spreads the ball to Grace Frohling (3.39 kills per set), Katie Lukes (3.22 k/s) and Breana Edwards (3.18 k/s) as the top offensive production for the Toreros.

It is time to secure season tickets for the 2022 season to see 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 to purchase tickets for $25 to catch all of Utah's remaining home matches.
Utah returns to Salt Lake City to begin a four-match home stand in the Huntsman Center beginning next Thursday, Sept. 15, against No. 10 BYU. The Utes and Cougars will compete at 7 p.m. MT in the Huntsman Center and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Utah will have a quick turnaround as it hosts Utah State on Friday, Sept. 16. The Utes and Aggies are set to play at 7 p.m. MT to close out the week of play for Utah.