Shelby Dalton hit 10 kills on a .409 efficiency on Sunday against fourth-ranked USC.
Sept. 29, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY - Junior right-side hitter Shelby Dalton hit a team-high 10 kills on a .409 hitting percentage to go with three digs and two blocks, but the University of Utah volleyball team could not avoid a three-set loss on Sunday to No. 4 USC (22-25, 21-25, 13-25) in a Pac-12 Conference match at the Huntsman Center.
Utah (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) held an 8.0-6.0 advantage in team blocks over USC for the match. Utah outblocked its opponent for the 12th time out of 14 matches this season, but this was the Utes' first loss in that scenario.
"It's not about our opponent," Utah Head Coach Beth Launiere said. "I felt really good about the first two sets. We played point-for-point with them and neither team was able to break away. They made a couple more plays in both sets to make the difference. Statistically, we played well when we were focused. We've been kind of up and down. We put together two sets against a really good team. Obviously, set three was just disappointing because they put pressure on us. It wasn't just like we chose to not be able to score. We could have responded just a little bit better. Overall, I felt like we put together two complete set against a really good team, but obviously we need more than that." Dalton posted her team-high 10 kills on 22 attempts with only one error for a .409 hitting percentage in what turned out to be her fourth consecutive double-digit-kill match and her eighth this season.
Senior right-side hitter Morgan Odale was second on the squad with eight kills to go with four digs and a block.
Senior middle blocker Erin Redd-Brandon and junior right-side hitter Alli Spurrier each turned in six kills apiece. Redd-Brandon also tied for match-high honors with four blocks, while Spurrier registered a .333 efficiency with only one error on 15 attempts to go with three blocks. Junior middle blocker Bailey Bateman tied Redd-Brandon for match-high honors with four blocks.
The Utes took two of the first three points, but the set would be tied once more (2-2) before three consecutive USC scores gave the visitors a 5-2 edge. Utah came back to within a point after a 5-2 spurt to tie the frame for the third time at seven points apiece. The Trojans then edged out with three straight scores to grab a 10-7 lead before the Utes fought back to tie the set for the fourth time at 11 points apiece and Utah would grab a 12-11 lead, its second lead of the set. The action would be tied four more times (16-16), but USC inched out a 4-1 run for a 20-17 advantage on the way to a 25-22 first-set victory. The Utes hit .314 in the opening set, but fell 25-22. Odale had four kills, while Cygan had four digs.
The second frame was knotted three times (3-3), but Utah edged out to a 5-3 lead. The Women of Troy took three of the next four points to tie the set for the fourth time at six points apiece. Play would be tied once more (8-8) before USC assumed a 10-8 lead. The Women of Troy led by as many as five (14-9) before launched a 4-0 run to fight back within a point on four occasions, the last coming at 18-17, on the way to a 25-21 win in the second set.
"We were playing very good defense," Launiere said. "Our middles and our right sides were putting up really good numbers. Our lefts were going up a big block. We're a team and we were able to get the ball to our middles and our rights and we played great defense. We just have to build from this. Our consistency has been an issue, so I feel like we made some progress in that for sure, but we have to get better at it still." In the third frame, there were three ties (3-3) before consecutive USC scores gave the visitors a 5-3 lead. The Women of Troy led by as many as 11 (23-12) and clinched the match with a 25-13 third-set victory.
No. 4 USC (12-1, 2-0 Pac-12) was led by 16 kills, six digs and four service aces by Samantha Bricio. Libero Natalie Hagglund registered a match-high 18 digs.
"We have to keep finding ways to get kills," Launiere said. "When we get stuck, it's usually offensively. We needed to get kills and there's a lot that goes into that so we will just keep plugging away."
The Utes conclude their four-game homestand next weekend against Washington State in their annual Blackout match on Friday before taking on No.2 Washington on Saturday. First serve of both matches from the Huntsman Center will be at 7 p.m. MT and a live video stream will be available at pac-12.com.