Offensive Struggles Cause Utes To Fall To Buffaloes In Conference Opener
SALT LAKE CITY – Offensive struggles for the Utes caused a setback in the conference opener for the home team as Utah Volleyball fell to Colorado in three sets (23-25, 11-25, 22-25) on Thursday night in the Huntsman Center. Despite leading the Buffaloes on the defensive end in digs and blocks, the lack of rhythm offensively was too much to overcome.
Utah gave up four straight points in the opening set to trail immediately, but a 4-0 run of its own led by three Abby Karich kills evened up the score. From there, the two teams went back and forth throughout the first set with the Buffs eventually gaining a 17-13 lead. Utah fought back once again with a run that included another trio of kills from Karich, but the Utes couldn't quite take a lead despite tying the set four times. Tied this time 18-18, Colorado pulled away to a 23-20 lead, which forced Utah to call timeout.
Out of the break, a service error from the visiting team earned the much-needed sideout for Utah, while Ashley West followed with the team's third block of the set. Trailing by one point, Megan Yett served a ball off the tape to trickle in for an ace and see the frame tied 23-23. The small burst of momentum for the Utes was stopped after Colorado's Meegan Hart collected a kill that was then followed by a Colorado block. Karich posted six kills, but the group as a whole could only combine to hit at a .176 clip.
The offensive errors poured on during the second set, and although the defense was keeping Colorado's offense in check, the errors added up quickly and Colorado came away with a second set win. The Buffaloes jumped out to a 14-4 lead during a run that saw three aces and Ute hitting errors, but Utah managed to get out of the rut and go on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to just 14-9. Out of a Colorado timeout, the Utes gave up another large spurt of points to eventually drop the set 25-11.
With neither team hitting extremely efficient, the Utes found themselves in a much tighter third set to start. Tied 8-8, Utah gave up five unanswered points to be forced to play from behind yet again. Utah chipped away at the lead thanks to blocks from Allie Olsen and Amelia Van Der Werff, as well as Lauren Jardine, to trail just 15-12. The momentum again shifted in Colorado's favor, seeing the Buffaloes take a 23-16 lead. However, the Utes continued fighting and scored four in a row to cut the lead to just 23-20, leading to a Colorado timeout.
Colorado's Alexia Kuehl collected a kill out of the timeout before Jardine responded with a kill of her own. Olsen earned a solo block immediately after to force another timeout from the Buffs with the Utes trailing 24-22, but a match-ending block was recorded the next play as Colorado would complete the road sweep.
Vanessa Ramirez led Utah's defensive efforts as she has done all season with a match-leading 13 digs, while defensive specialists Megan Yett and Kamry Bailey each added eight to the count. Olsen had five blocks and Van Der Werff added four blocks to highlight Utah's 10 total blocks on the night.
Karich finished with nine kills to lead the offense, while Jardine added five kills, and Van Der Werff posted four. Viktoria Wahlgren tallied nine assists and Emily Smith added eight.
Utah will continue Pac-12 play against Arizona this Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. MT. The Utes and Wildcats will be streamed on Pac-12 Insider during Utah's diversity and inclusion match at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.