Sept. 6 1997
SPOKANE, Wash. - Utah has seen enough of Top 25 teams during its early-season schedule, both literally and figuratively.
The Utes succumbed to No. 20 Notre Dame and defeated Gonzaga in the third-place match on Saturday at the Sixth Annual Spikeoff Spokane volleyball tournament. Utah lost to No. 6 Washington in four games on Friday.
Meeting its third Top 25 team in five matches this season, Utah fell to Notre Dame 15-1, 15-8, 17-15. Utah struggled in the first two games against Notre Dame, with the Fighting Irish racing out to a 13-0 and 7-0 leads. The Utes came alive and were on the verge of taking game three, leading 13-6. Notre Dame then went on a six-point run before the Utes answered with two points to go up 14-12, serving for game point. However, a service error by freshman Kalani Tonga opened the door for Notre Dame, which scored five of the next six points to win 17-15.
Brenda Barton-Whicker led the Utes with 8 kills and 9 digs. Freshman Lucie Turkova took over as setter late in game one and posted 21 assists. Utah was outhit .240 to .000.
Jaimie Lee, who played for the USA National Team in the World University Games this summer, had 14 kills, 9 digs and hit .333 to lead Notre Dame.
Barton-Whicker and Sara Shakula each posted 11 kills as Utah, now 2-3, swept the host Bulldogs 16-14, 15-11, 15-4. Shakula hit .450 in the match and Barton-Whicker nad a match-high 14 digs. Turkova, in her first start as a Ute, had 37 assists.
The Utes took the momentum for good against Gonzaga when they scored the last five points to overcome a 14-12 deficit and win the first game 16-14. Barton-Whicker put down the game winning kill.
"We might have lost some matches, but I'm still happy with playing this schedule," said Ute head coach Beth Launiere. "We're figuring out how to play against good teams, and we're building for the rest of the season by doing this. I really believe that once we get into the WAC, this experience will pay off."
The schedule gets much easier for the young Utes, who's line-up features three freshmen. According to this week's AVCA Poll, Utah won't face another nationally-ranked team for the next nine matches.
The Utes host the Utah Classic next Friday and Saturday at Crimson Court.