Dominant Sweep Over Utah State Wraps Up Non-Conference Play for Utah Volleyball
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Volleyball wrapped up non-conference play Friday night at the Huntsman Center in style, sweeping the Utah State Aggies (25-20, 25-10, 25-18). The Utes will head into Pac-12 Conference play sitting at 7-4 overall this season.
"I am proud of our response from last night to tonight's match," said head coach Beth Launiere. "You never know how the team will respond and I thought we showed some maturity preparing for tonight's match in a quick turnaround. We had a lot of great contributions once again from many players. Our team has matured and grown a lot throughout preseason play and we feel our strong schedule has prepared us well for Pac-12 play."
Coming off a lengthy match less than 24 hours ago, Utah struggled to find momentum in the opening set and found itself trailing 13-9 early on. A 5-1 run from the Utes tied the set 14-14, but Utah State responded with three consecutive points to regain a lead. Abby Karich collected a kill to end the run and kick off what went on to be five unanswered points for Utah, which pushed the home team ahead 19-17. After an Aggie sideout, the Utes used a 4-0 run to lead 23-18 and get in a position to win the frame.
Utah called timeout leading just 23-20 after a pair of Utah State points, and out of the timeout, the Utes used a service error from the Aggies and Ashley West's fifth kill of the set to win 25-20. West led the team with five kills on .714 hitting, while Lauren Jardine also added five kills to the mix. Viktoria Wahlgren earned her first career start and opened the match with 15 assists in the first frame, while Abby Karich led the Utes defensively with seven digs.
Utah wasted no time in the second set to take control of the match and immediately put together a 7-0 run, taking a commanding 12-5 lead. Later leading 16-10, the Utes rattled off the final nine points of the frame to take a dominant 25-10 victory and lead the match 2-0. Utah hit .480 as a team in the second set with Karich and Jardine each collecting four kills, while the Aggies offense combined to hit -.071 due to numerous hitting errors. Megan Yett also recorded three service aces in the set to silence the Aggie passers.
The third set was all Utah once again as the squad built out an 11-3 lead right away and never looked back. The closest the Aggies could trim the lead to was just five points, but the Utes immediately shut down momentum and eventually jumped ahead 23-13 in the final moments of the match, and going on to win the set 25-18 to earn the clean sweep. Utah posted four blocks in the frame, led by KJ Burgess' three blocks, and hit .278 compared to Utah State's .067 hitting clip.
Jardine posted a match-high 14 kills, which also ties her career high, and hit a season-best .355 in the match. Wahlgren dished out 35 assists in her first career start, while adding four blocks and seven digs. Karich posted nine kills and nine digs and West tallied eight kills on .667 hitting with zero errors. Defensively, Vanessa Ramirez once again led the team with a match-high 13 digs, while Kamry Bailey hit double-digits with 11 digs. Burgess led both teams with five blocks tonight.
Utah Volleyball is set to open Pac-12 Conference play next week at the Huntsman Center, hosting Colorado and Arizona to wrap up the four-match home stand. Utah and Colorado will kick off Pac-12 play on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. MT and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Then, Utah will close out the weekend hosting Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Insider.