PROVO, Utah The University of Utah volleyball team saw the 2021 season come to an end on Saturday night as the Utes fell to BYU’s No. 11 in a four-set battle (25-17, 22-25, 23-25, 23 -25) at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. Utah volleyball finished the season 22-9 overall after the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“That was a great NCAA volleyball game,” said Utah’s head coach Beth Launiere. “It says a lot about volleyball in the state of Utah to have a really great, competitive volleyball game with the amount of fans that were here. I was so proud of our team for the fight we showed. It was a fun game to be in.” to play and coach in. A lot of big plays were made and really good players made good plays.”
Launiere continued: “I just couldn’t be prouder. I really love this team and we talked in the locker room about how we didn’t really want it to end because this group is very close and very close. It was just a great volleyball game this evening.”
The tightly contested match saw many momentum swings and went back and forth throughout the night. Utah finished the game with more kills, digs and assists, while BYU had the upper hand in hitting percentages, aces and blocks on the night. Each team had its moments of playing in time and the Cougars managed to take on just enough to fend off the Utes and take the win.
Utah fell behind early in the first set after BYU took a 7-4 lead, but the Utes managed to collect six consecutive runs to give them a 10-7 lead. The Cougars earned a sideout on a service error, but the Utes continued to apply pressure and scored the next five of the six runs, forcing BYU to call a timeout trailing 15-9. After Utah later held onto the lead at 19-15, he closed the set by scoring six of the last eight points to win 25-17 in a set in which the team hit .300.
The Utes took the early lead in the second set by a whopping three points, but the Cougars tied the frame 12-12 shortly afterwards. A block from the will of Amelia Van Der Werff and Dani Drews, followed by a Madelyn Robinson kill regained the lead, but BYU would score six of the next seven points to take an 18-15 lead. With the deficit extended to 23-18, Utah scored three straight points to trail just two. BYU’s Eschenberg registered a kill before the set point and despite Drews posting her eighth kill from the set-count, BYU scored the final point with another kill to win 25-22.
With the game tied at 1-1, the teams played a close third set to start, but the Utes gave up a 9-1 run to fall into a 16-9 hole. The Cougars appeared to have the set under control with the lead to 23-15 and playing up front, but the Utes found some momentum and rattled four straight runs to shorten the lead.
BYU finally deserved a sideout, but the fight continued from Utah as Madelyn Robinson committed back-to-back kills, while a Utah block and a Zoe Weatherington kill followed to follow only 24-23. Although Utah scored nine of the previous 10 points, Utah was unable to complete the late rally as BYU earned a kill on the next game to end the set.
The fourth set went back and forth from start to finish and it stayed that way throughout the match. BYU grabbed an early momentum swing after rambling a 7-1 run to give an 11-8 lead to force Utah to play from behind for most of the set. The Utes narrowed the lead to just one point after a pair of consecutive kills at 18-17. Utah and BYU went point for point for the next eight games to reach a score of 22-21, still in BYU’s favor, until Utah finally tied the game after a large block from Van Der Werff and Robinson.
Utah earned the lead on the next play after BYU sent a ball out of bounds, forcing BYU to call a timeout trailing 23-22. From the break, the Cougars collected a kill to even the set and backed it up the next game with a block on the outside. Although Utah called a timeout to try and stop the run of points, Utah saw the season end with a game that knocked Drews out of her attacking approach by a collision with a teammate, and her scrambled to get the ball over, which she sent out of bounds to end the match.
Drews and Robinson led the Utes offensively with 18 kills and 17 kills respectively. Drews added eight digs, while Robinson posted six digs in the duo’s final collegiate match. Also suitable for the last wash Stef Jankiewicz, who handed out 47 assists and made a total of four digs.
Allie Olsen collected seven kills on nine swings and set a team-high four blocks. Weatherington added eight kills for the Utes and Vanessa Ramirez had a match-high 13 digs.
The Utes finished the season with an overall record of 22-9 after reaching the program’s sixth consecutive NCAA tournament. Utah was 14-6 overall in the Pac-12, finishing third in the conference standings for the third straight year.
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