Head coach Beth Launiere's Utah volleyball team hosts matches this Friday and Saturday.
Oct. 25, 2004
What's on Tap?
The No. 17-ranked (USA Today/CSTV coaches poll) University of Utah women's volleyball team (16-3, 8-0 Mountain West) will host another two-match homestand this weekend. The Utes welcome New Mexico (Friday, Oct. 29) and Air Force (Saturday, Oct. 30) to Crimson Court. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.
Scouting the Opposition:
New Mexico (7-13, 1-8 Mountain West) has not only lost four straight matches, but it has also dropped 12 straight games. The last time the Lobos won a game was in their last match victory, a three-game win over Air Force on Oct. 8. Last weekend, UNM dropped two 3-0 decisions to Wyoming and No. 9 Colorado State. Nicole Ryan is the top offensive threat for the Lobos. She averages 3.27 kills per game on .213 hitting. Samie Weber leads the team in blocks (1.26 per game) while Adah Burke leads in digs (4.15) and Monica Meihack in assists (10.29). Kelly McKee is in her third season as head coach at UNM with a 164-163 career mark.
Air Force (4-15, 0-9 Mountain West) is looking to snap an 11-match losing streak this weekend. The last Falcon victory this season was a three-game sweep of Texas Pan American on Sept. 23. Last weekend, AFA dropped a pair of 3-1 decisions to Wyoming and No. 9 Colorado State. Air Force will play at BYU this Friday before coming to Crimson Court. Kristin Hamlett leads the way for the service academy, averaging 3.42 kills per game. Brooke Akers paces the Falcons by hitting .232 and by averaging 0.87 blocks per game. Jenalee Burke (2.37 digs per game) and Carly Siefken (10.81 assists) are also among the team leaders. Penny Lucas-White is in her ninth season as head coach and owns a 69-174 record at the academy.
Utah will meet both New Mexico and Air Force for the second time this season. Utah nabbed the hard-earned five-game win at UNM on Oct. 2 despite the Lobo defense posting an amazing 22.5 team blocks. Three Lobos tallied 10 or more blocks in that match. The Utes own a 33-26 edge in the all-time series with New Mexico. The Utes have won 17 straight over the Lobos. Not since the Western Athletic Conference days have the Lobos topped Utah. It was a 3-1 Lobo win at the 1996 WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Utes tallied a 3-1 win over Air Force on Oct. 1. Liana Bortoto tallied then-career highs of 18 kills and 13 digs in the conference victory. These two teams will tangle for the 14th time in their respective histories. Utah is a perfect 13-0 against the Falcons, the only conference rival the Utes haven't lost to.
Quoting Head Coach Beth Launiere:
On UNM and AFA: "New Mexico gave us about all we could handle the last time we played it. It is one of the toughest matches we played all year and we have to come out ready to play the Lobos this weekend.
"But, at this point, every match is important to us as we come down the home stretch. Both New Mexico and Air Force played very good matches against us last time and we have to be ready to face them."
On Notre Dame and BYU: "I think that by responding to the Notre Dame match with a win showed that our team can respond in a positive manner after things go wrong. This gives us more confidence and I think it renewed our focus."
The Utes went 1-1 in action last week, dropping a 3-0 home match to Notre Dame but returning the favor with a 3-0 home win over Brigham Young.
Notre Dame benefited from six service aces and 10 Utah service errors as it stole the 3-0 victory on Crimson Court on Oct. 19. The Irish stymied Utah, out hitting the Utes, .231-.169, outblocking them, 10-8, and forcing Utah into 23 hitting errors. Lyndsey Henderson and Liana Bortoto led the way with 10 kills apiece. Henderson also had a team-best five blocks in the loss.
Utah returned to the win column with a 3-0 conference win over BYU on Oct. 23. Three Utes had double-digit kills as they outhit the cougars, .277-.217. Utah also got help from 14 BYU service errors. Bortoto led with 19 kills while Henderson and Shelly Sommerfeldt added 15 and 13, respectively. Henderson also led the Utes with four blocks.
National Rankings: As of 10/17, Lyndsey Henderson is third in blocks per game (1.78) while the team ranks eighth (3.38). Note: NCAA stats are updated every Tuesday.
Mountain West Individual Stats: Lyndsey Henderson is second in blocks per game (1.76), third in kills (3.65) and fourth in hitting percentage (.352); Connie Dangerfield is second in digs (4.22); Amie Toone is fourth in blocks (1.36); Danielle Leichliter is fifth in service aces per game (0.31); Tracy Neumeier is 11th in both assists (6.38) and digs (2.36); Kelsie Kartchner is ninth in assists (6.22); ; Emillie Toone ranks 10th in blocks (1.03); Shelly Sommerfeldt is 13th in kills (3.10).
Mountain West Team Stats: Utah is tops in opponent hitting percentage (.143) and blocks (3.33); second in digs (14.75) and service aces (1.62); it is fourth in hitting (.235); fifth in kills (14.97); fifth in assists (13.60).
Back Seat Driver:
Connie Dangerfield racked up 23 digs in the loss to Notre Dame. With the 12 digs against BYU, the libero nearly averaged six digs per game at 5.83. After last weekend, her per-game average upped slightly from 4.08 to 4.22, good enough for the second-best mark in the MWC. The 23 digs marks the second-best single-match effort by Dangerfield this season. It was only her fourth 20-plus dig effort this year. Dangerfield's other top performances include 23 digs against Colorado State, 21 against Northern Colorado and a conference-record 33 versus UCLA.
Second Verse, Same As The First:
The Utes got through the first half of conference play unscathed at 7-0. The second half started off with similar results as Utah edged its top rival in BYU last weekend, 3-0. Utah improves to 8-0 in MWC play this season, the best conference start in program history.
Do All Good Things Have to End?:
Utah saw its program-best 12-match winning streak come to a screeching halt with a 3-0 loss to Notre Dame last week. Moreover, it was the first home loss this season and the first one since Colorado State's 3-1 win on Crimson Court on Sept. 27, 2003. While those streaks are no longer intact, the Utes still have won 13-straight conference tilts dating back to a three-game win over Air Force on Oct. 31, 2003. The last MWC loss for Utah was a 3-1 road loss to Colorado State on Oct. 26, 2003.
Bring On The Heat:
Liana Bortoto continues to be one of the teams' top players since conference play began. Last weekend, the outside hitter led the Utes with 10 kills against Notre Dame and returned to record a career-best 19 kills versus BYU (averaging 6.33 kills per game against the Cougars). Her season averages of 2.67 kills per game, .209 hitting, and 1.89 digs improve to 3.21 kills, .261 hitting and 2.17 digs against conference foes.
17 And Counting:
Middle blocker Lyndsey Henderson has recorded double-digit kills in 17 straight matches. In fact, it was only the first two matches of the season that Henderson didn't break the 10-kill plateau. During this string, she has broken the 20-kill barrier twice (a career-high 22 versus UCLA and 20 against Wyoming). She leads the team with 3.65 kills per game and with a .352 hitting percentage. She also is among the top blockers in the nation and the conference with 1.76 per game.
Shelly Sommerfeldt hit a season-best .476 against BYU last weekend. The outside hitter racked up 13 kills and three errors on 21 swings. That tops her previous season best of .360 (11-2-25) in the San Diego State match. Sommerfeldt's career-best effort came in 2002, when she hit .625 against Wyoming (Nov. 21).
Utah slipped in the USA Today/CSTV coaches poll. The Utes check in at No. 17 this week, falling from No. 14. The Utes have been in the poll six straight weeks. No. 14 is the highest ranking yet this season ... head coach Beth Launiere is nine wins shy of tallying 300 career victories ... Utah is 3-2 against teams mentioned in the USA Today/CSTV coaches poll, 2-0 against top-10 teams. It beat No. 6 UCLA (3-2) and No. 7 Colorado State (3-1). Two matches still remain against ranked teams (versus No. 9 Colorado State and No. 3 Hawaii) ... Utah's five service errors against BYU last weekend were the fewest in a match this season ... Notre Dame handed Utah it's first sweep of the season ... Utah's .169 hitting percentage was the lowest for a three-game match this year ... BYU and New Mexico are the only conference schools to hold Utah to fewer than 10 team blocks in a match ... the Utes are 5-1 in extra-point affairs ... Utah is 9-2 in games settled by two points ... Utah is 6-1 in three-game matches, 8-1 in four-gamers and 2-1 in five-game matches ... the last five-game match Utah played was against New Mexico.
At The Helm:
Beth Launiere is in her 15th season as head coach of the Utah women's volleyball program. She owns a 291-174 all-time record. She has led her squad to NCAA Tournament appearances the last six seasons, including a "Sweet 16" showing in 2001. Following the "Sweet 16" showing, Launiere was named the 2001 Tachikara/AVCA Division I West Region Coach of the Year. Launiere's Utes have recorded nine 20-win seasons, and last year, Utah posted a school-record 12 conference victories. A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Launiere graduated from Aquinas College and was an assistant at Ferris State and Illinois before taking over the Ute program in 1990.
On the Air:
Radio broadcasts and live video streaming of home volleyball games will be available on the Internet at the official athletics Web site, www.UtahUtes.com. In addition, the Nov. 13 home match against Colorado State will be televised on College Sports TV (CSTV). It will air on tape delay on Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m. (MST). Check with your local cable or satellite provider for more information on CSTV.
Next weekend is the Utes' last road trip before the MWC tournament. Utah will play at San Diego State (Friday, Nov. 5) and at UNLV (Saturday, Nov. 6). Both matches will start at 7 p.m. PDT.