Junior outside hitter Makenzie Moea'i posted her first double-double as a Ute Saturday night against Northwestern State.
Sep 7, 2013
DENTON, Texas - Thanks to a .414-.128 advantage in team hitting as well as a 10.0-1.0 edge in blocking, the University of Utah volleyball team clinched the North Texas Invitational title with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-15) victory over Northwestern State on Saturday in the Mean Green Volleyball Center.
Utah went 4-0 this weekend at the North Texas Invitational and is now 7-0, which is tied for the best start to a season in school history. The Utes went 8-0 in 2000 and won seven straight to open the 1992 campaign.
"This was a good tournament for us," Utah Head Coach Beth Launiere said. "We faced quality teams yesterday and followed that up with, more importantly, a high level of play today. We got better with the organization of our offense and defense and just kept executing at a high level."
The Utes' .414 day on the attack was led by two 10-kill performances by junior outside hitter Makenzie Moea'i and junior middle blocker Bailey Bateman. Moea'i had a .600 hitting percentage on 15 swings with just one miscue to go with a season-high 13 digs for the first double-double of her Ute career, while Bateman did not commit an error on 13 attack attempts to earn a .769 hitting percentage.
"Makenzie had a great tournament," Launiere said. "She put up big numbers throughout the tournament playing both right and left-side hitter positions. Bailey was great tonight with 10 kills on 13 attempts."
Bateman also paced the Utah defense at the net by coming up with a match-high seven blocks. Junior right-side hitter Shelby Dalton was named to the North Texas Invitational Tournament Team after claiming eight kills to go with five blocks, while senior middle blocker Erin Redd-Brandon tied her career high for the fifth time with three service aces.
"I told the team that these are team awards," Launiere said. "They could have picked anyone on the team. This team isn't talking about any individual awards, just team success. These awards are great, but any number of our players could have been selected. Everyone executed very well throughout the tournament. It was good to get separation in score during today's matches and get a flow going."
Junior right-side hitter Alli Spurrier pounded seven kills and posted a season-high three blocks, while All-Tournament Team selection Odale chipped in six kills and four digs.
All-Tourney Team honoree Lea Adolph had a match-high 14 digs for her fifth double-figure-dig effort in seven matches this season.
Utah jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the first set and would cruise to a 25-15 victory. The Utes hit .762 in the opener, led by Bateman and Moea'i, who collected eight kills on nine swings without a single error.
In the second set, there were seven ties (the last coming at 15-15) before Utah took six of the next seven points to grab a 21-16 advantage on the way to a 25-22 win. Dalton had five kills on eight attempts for a .500 efficiency, while the Utes held the Lady Demons to a .081 clip. Utah also earned a 3.0 to 0.0 edge in team blocks.
At the start of the third set, Utah took seven of the first nine points and would lead by as many as 13 (21-8) during a 25-15 match-clinching victory. Bateman converted on all four of her attack attempts for a 1.000 hitting percentage, while the Utes compiled a .407 mark and held Northwestern State to .067.
Northwestern State (1-6) was led by a nine-kill performance by Caiti O'Connell.
The Utes return to the Beehive State next weekend for the Wolverine Classic at Utah Valley on Sept. 13-14 in Orem, Utah.