Utah Volleyball Hosts #24 USC and UCLA To Begin Second Half of Pac-12 Play
Match 22: Utah (12-9, 5-5 Pac-12) vs. USC (16-5, 8-2 Pac-12)
Friday, Oct. 28 | 6 p.m. MT
Salt Lake City | Jon M. Huntsman Center
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Watch: Pac-12 Mountain
Match 23: Utah (12-9, 5-5 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (6-12, 1-7 Pac-12)
Sunday, Oct. 30 | 12 p.m. MT
Salt Lake City | Jon M. Huntsman Center
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Utah Volleyball returns to the Jon M. Huntsman Center to begin the second half of Pac-12 play against No. 24 USC and UCLA. The Utes will host USC to start the weekend on Friday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City. The match will be televised on Pac-12 Mountain, and there will be trick-or-treating in the concourse prior to the match. Fans are encouraged to wear costumes to the match Friday night. Utah will host UCLA for its Dark Mode match on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 12 p.m. MT to wrap up the weekend. There will be free black Utah beanies given away and fans are encouraged to wear black.
• Madelyn Robinson has posted double-digit kills in every match this season and is 10th nationally with 4.66 kills per set.
• Robinson posted a career-best 28 kills last weekend against Oregon, while she finished the weekend averaging 6.57 kills per set on .354 hitting.
• Vanessa Ramirez has had the most or at least tied for the most digs on the team in 19 of 21 matches this season.
• Since 2019, Utah is 37-11 overall in the Huntsman Center.
• Utah has the 14th toughest schedule in the nation this season, while the Utes are No. 38 in the RPI rankings this week.
• Utah split its first meeting against the LA schools on the road, picking up a 3-1 win over UCLA before falling 1-3 at USC.
• Utah is 9-23 all-time (4-7 in SLC) against UCLA, and is 6-4 in the last 10 meetings. Utah is 10-19 all-time vs. USC (5-8 in SLC), and is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings, which included seven straight wins prior to the loss in Los Angeles this season.
IN THE RANKINGS
• Utah is fifth in the Pac-12 and No. 35 in the nation with 13.79 kills per set.
• Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and No. 48 in the nation with 12.53 assists per set.
• Utah leads the Pac-12 with 15.05 digs per set.
• Madelyn Robinson is second in the Pac-12 and No. 10 in the nation with 4.66 kills per set.
• KJ Burgess is sixth in the Pac-12 in blocks per set (1.28) and is No. 36 nationally.
• Vanessa Ramirez leads the Pac-12 and is No. 87 in the nation with 4.32 digs per set.
• Allie Olsen is fourth in the conference in hitting percentage (.360) and No. 58 nationally.
RALLYING AROUND ROBINSON
Madelyn Robinson is playing like the AVCA All-Region and All-Pac-12 player she is this season, taking leadership over the Utes and leading the team with 4.42 kills per set. The Highland, Utah native ranks 10th nationally in kills per set and has averaged 5.17 kills per set since conference play started. Robinson is coming off a career high 28 kills against Oregon in just four sets, which upped her previous career high by two kills (26, at Purdue in five sets). This past weekend, Robinson averaged 6.57 kills per set on .354 hitting to lead the team against Oregon and Oregon State. Robinson has recorded double-digit kills in every match this season and has led the team in kills in all but one match that she has played in. She has also collected three double-doubles this year. She earned her first Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award on Sept. 5, following her weekend at Purdue where she had two matches of 20-plus kills, which included a then-career high of 26 kills vs. Purdue. She has reached the 20-kill mark in four matches this season, while recording more than 15 kills in 10 outings.
RAMIREZ RUNNING THE BACK ROW
Utah's starting libero Vanessa Ramirez has taken over the back row this season, leading the Pac-12 Conference in digs per set halfway through the conference slate. Ramirez is averaging a league-best 4.32 digs per set this season, and has so far averaged a league-best 4.52 digs per set during Pac-12 play. She has posted double-digit digs in all but three matches this season and has hit 20-plus digs in six matches. During the Pac-12 opening weekend, she averaged 5.50 digs per set vs. Colorado and Arizona, and recorded her fifth match 20 or more digs when she posted 20 digs in the sweep over Arizona. In Los Angeles, Ramirez led the Utes with her sixth 20-dig match of the year after collecting 22 digs at USC. At the Purdue tournament, 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 has had the most or at least tied for the most digs on the team in 19 of 21 matches this season.
BURGESS BREAKING OUT
Ute freshman KJ Burgess has been on roll since she earned the starting position at middle blocker, and is leading the team with 1.28 blocks per set this season, which ranks sixth in the Pac-12 and No. 36 in the nation. Her 1.28 blocks per set is the most by any freshman in the Pac-12 Conference, and since the start of Pac-12 play, she is averaging 1.29 blk/s, which ranks fifth in the Pac-12. Against Washington State and Washington, Burgess totaled 11 blocks to lead the team, while the first year Ute hit .500 with zero hitting errors between the two matches. Burgess has hit above .455 in four of the last five matches with four of those outings having zero hitting errors. She tied a season-high 10 kills against Stanford on .625 hitting. In conference play, she is hitting at a team-best .371 clip, which ranks sixth in the Pac-12.
SCOUTING #24 USC
USC sits in second place in the conference standings heading into the second half of the Pac-12 slate. The Trojans entered the AVCA Coaches Poll this week at No. 24 and have won seven of their last eight matches. USC is ninth in the nation with a .290 hitting percentage this season, while ranking No. 18 in assists per set (13.05), No. 24 in kills per set (13.94), and No. 26 in aces per set (1.83), which all rank in the top-five in the Pac-12. Skylar Fields leads the offense with a league-best 4.99 kills per set, which ranks seventh nationally, while Mia Tuaniga dishes out 11.23 assists per set. She ranks second in the Pac-12 and ninth nationally, while she also leads the Pac-12 and is No. 15 in the nation with 0.54 aces per set. In the first meeting against USC, Madelyn Robinson posted 23 kills and Vanessa Ramirez added 22 digs to lead the team.
UCLA is coming off a weekend split against Cal (W, 3-0) and Stanford (L, 0-3) as the Bruins sit at 4-6 so far in Pac-12 play. The Bruins rank in the top-five of the Pac-12 in aces, assists, blocks, and digs per set. The Bruins are No. 44 in the nation with 12.57 assists per set, while ranking No. 47 nationally with 2.44 blocks per set. Francesca Alupei leads the conference with 1.53 blocks per set and is fifth in the nation. Matti McKissock is fourth in the Pac-12 and No. 43 in the nation with 10.33 assists per set. In the first meeting against UCLA this year, Emily Smith posted a double-double as one of three Utes reached double-figure digs in the defensive battle.
• Utah is 11-0 when leading in hitting percentage.
• Utah is 6-0 when hitting .300 or better, and 9-2 when hitting .250 or better.
• Utah has recorded more digs or tied its opponent in digs in 16 of 21 matches.
• Seven Utes have recorded at least one match of 10 or more kills this season.
• Six Utes have recorded at least two matches of 10 or more digs this season.
• Madelyn Robinson has recorded double-digit kills in every match she has played in this season and has led the team in kills in all but one match that she has played in.
• Vanessa Ramirez has posted double-digit digs in 18 of 21 matches this season.
• Emily Smith has posted 10 double-doubles this season.
Utah heads to the Bay Area next weekend to play at Stanford on Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. MT in Palo Alto, Calif. The match at Maples Pavilion will be streamed on Pac-12 Insider. Then, Utah will take on California on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m. MT at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. The match will air on Pac-12 Bay Area.