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2012 Utah Volleyball Preview: Outside Hitters

Junior Morgan Odale (pictured), Chelsey Schofield and Tjasa Kotnik will all fill the outside hitter role for the Utes in 2012.

Junior Morgan Odale (pictured), Chelsey Schofield and Tjasa Kotnik will all fill the outside hitter role for the Utes in 2012.

Aug. 14, 2012

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With the first serve of the 2012 Utah volleyball season 10 days away, utahutes.com will offer a position-by-position breakdown of the Ute roster preps fans for the upcoming year as well as a look at the schedule for Utah's second season in the Pac-12 conference. This is the second in a five-part series about the student-athletes Utah has at each position heading into the season as well as the competition they will face.

Monday, Aug. 13: Right-side Hitters
Tuesday, Aug. 14: Outside Hitters
Wednesday, Aug. 15: Middle Blockers
Thursday, Aug. 16: Setters/Liberos
Friday, Aug. 17: Schedule

Outside Hitters to Lead Utah Offense

Junior Morgan Odale and sophomore Chelsey Schofield return to anchor the Ute attack. The duo started all 31 matches last season and both were Utah's top options last year, combining for 5.80 kills per set, which was 48% of the team's kills. Odale hasn't missed a start in two seasons and already has 685 career kills. Schofield earned Pac-12 All-Freshman Team Honorable Mention last season after leading the team last season with 2.95 kills per set and finishing third on the squad with 2.63 digs per set.



"We'll have Odale and Schofield leading our offense. Obviously, Morgan and Chelsey played all of last year and very seldom came off the court," head coach Beth Launiere said. "Both have a tremendous amount of experience. I feel really good about this position, not the quality of depth that I would like, but the quality and experience levels are high."

Despite putting up huge numbers, the duo continues to work with the Ute coaching staff to add new facets to their games.

"We worked with Chelsey and Morgan a lot on hitting out of the back row this spring," Launiere said. "We talked about speeding up our offense. We sped up our back-row attacks. They're hitting out of the back row very well and that's going to be a big part of our offense this year."

Incoming freshman TjaÂ?a Kotnik will provide a third option for the Utes on the attack throughout the season. Kotnik comes to Utah from Slovenia, where she competed for the national team on the several different levels.

"TjaÂ?a is 6-3 and a tremendous athlete, who's been playing volleyball for a long time," Launiere said. "She was on the U-14, U-16 and U-18 Slovenian National teams and is just a really nice athlete, who jumps well, is dynamic. Obviously any freshman, especially an international student, you're not always sure what they're about so it will take some time to figure her game out in detail. She has a lot of great athletic ability along with experience so we're excited about her."

The Utes also signed junior transfer and American Fork, Utah native Makenzie Moea'i, who played the first two seasons of her collegiate career at UNLV. She led all Rebel attackers with 330 kills in 2011 for a team-best 2.92 kills per set. Moea'i owned a .214 hitting efficiency and contributed 96 digs, 44 blocks (nine solo). Moea'i will have to watch from the bench in 2012 due to NCAA transfer rules.

"It's unfortunate that Makenzie has to sit out a year due to the transfer," Launiere said. "We'll be a little thin on depth, but we'll be okay."

Outside Hitter Player Notes:

TjaÂ?a Kotnik

Fr. • OH • 6-3 • Ljubljana, Slovenia • Gimnazija Â?entvid
Tremendous athlete who has been playing at a high level for a long time as a member of the U-14, U-16 and U-18 Slovenian National teams ... can play either left or right side ... jumps well and is quick for her size ... brings a wealth of experience from her time with the Slovenian National Team program.

Makenzie Moea'i

Jr. • OH • 6-0 • American Fork, Utah • American Fork HS
Two-year starter at UNLV ... a talented player and gifted athlete who has a lot of game ... sees the game well and hits hard and high ... redshirt year will give her a chance to work on every aspect of her game: back-row, passing, serving and defense.

Morgan Odale

Jr. • OH • 6-1 • Star, Idaho • Eagle H.S.

Two-year starter who has played this game a long time at a high level ... made some significant strides this spring and has a tremendous upside to her game ... a mentally tough competitor who has been in the battles ... has been Utah's go-to player with the game on the line ... already has 685 career kills ... has 15 career double-doubles.

Chelsey Schofield

So. • OH • 6-1 • Provo, Utah • Mountain View H.S.

Received a lot of high-pressure sets at the end of matches as a freshman last season and handled them extremely well ... became a key player for the Utes by the second round of Pac-12 play in 2011 ... has the best `game' of anyone on the Ute roster: she's a great passer, has all of the shots offensively, and sees the game well ... an all-around player who makes any team better ... mentally tough and aggressive.

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