Utah head coach Beth Launiere and the Utes started their 2012 season with a pair of practices on Wednesday.
Aug. 8, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - The University of Utah volleyball team opened its 2012 season with a pair of practice sessions at Crimson Court on Wednesday. The Utes will have `two-a-days' on Thursday and Friday as well before leaving before leaving on Saturday for team activities in Midway, Utah.
"I was very pleased with the first day of practice," Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. "I've been talking a lot about how we've been accumulating some experience over the last couple of years and it showed today. It went pretty smoothly. We worked on our offense and there were a lot of people in the gym who understand our system so we felt like we got a lot accomplished right off the bat.
Entering her 23rd season at the helm of the Utah volleyball program with 436 career wins, Launiere's approach to the first day of practice has changed somewhat.
"I still get butterflies before the first day of practice," Launiere said. "But it's definitely filtered differently than it used to be. I understand now that it's a long season and we have to approach the first day with that in mind."
Setter McKenzie Odale is the lone senior on this year's squad and is looking to take advantage of her last season as a Ute. Odale is ready to take on an increased leadership role on this year's team and was impressive on the first day.
"McKenzie had a nice first day of practice," Launiere said. "We worked on offense a lot today and she ran it very well."
After physicals, conditioning testing, and team meetings this morning, the first workout of the season went from 10 a.m. to noon, while the second session went from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Utes also welcome a group of five newcomers, including freshman setter Gigi Cresto.
"I liked how the coaching staff divided the practices up," Cresto said. "We worked on more general things in the beginning, broke up into position groups and then finished with more 6-on-6-type situations. It was a good way to keep practice moving. It takes a little bit of time to feel comfortable with a new team, in terms of learning what people like to do and as a setter learning which hitters like which types of sets, and that sort of thing, but once you get that down, you're good to go."
Utah opens its 2012 schedule on Friday, Aug. 24 against Southern Utah in the Utah State Invitational in Logan, Utah. First serve from The Spectrum is set for 7 p.m.
Tickets for Utah's home debut against Utah Valley on Aug. 28 (7 p.m.) are on sale now at utahtickets.com and by phone at 801.581.UTIX.
The Utes will host their annual Alumni Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. Admission is free.