Lori Baird was named the MWC Co-Player of the Year.
Dec. 15, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah volleyball team went 26-6 overall and made its second NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance in school history. The Utes won their sixth overall Mountain West Conference Tournament title (regular season and tournament combined) in school history with a 14-2 league record to claim the crown by two matches over Colorado State.
Lori Baird (Murray, Utah) was named the MWC Co-Player of the Year, while head coach Beth Launiere was the MWC and AVCA West Region Coach of the Year. Emillie Toone (American Fork, Utah) joined Baird on the AVCA All-West Region and All-MWC teams.
Utah has played in the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the last 11 years and has a 10-10 all-time record in the tournament. The Utes' only other Sweet 16 appearance in school history was in 2001.
NCAA Sweet 16 Recap
Utah got a team-high 10 kills from senior All-MWC outside hitter Kathryn Haynie (North Salt Lake City, Utah) but lost to Washington in three sets (16-25, 20-25, 16-25) in a Seattle Regional semifinal match Friday at Bank One Arena. The Utes were outhit .413 to .253 for the match, but held a 6.5 to 4.5 edge in blocks. Toone posted a match-high five blocks, while three others had a pair of blocks. Haynie had 10 kills on 24 swings with four errors for a .250 hitting percentage to go along with nine digs and two blocks. All-MWC selection Karolina Bartkowiak hit for seven kills on just nine swings for a .667 hitting percentage. The Aurora, Ill., native committed only one attack error.
NCAA Second-Round Recap
Utah defeated Furman and Clemson in Clemson, S.C., during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and now have a 26-5 mark this season. Haynie posted a team-high 11 kills as Utah earned its second NCAA Tournament victory with a 3-0 second-round win (25-21, 26-24, 25-21) at Clemson Dec. 6.
NCAA First-Round Recap
Three different Utes registered eight kills apiece as Utah earned a three-set win against Furman in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Dec. 5 at Clemson, S.C.
The Utes finished the match strong by hitting .636 in the third set and held a .304 to .115 edge in the match overall. Utah gained a 10-8 advantage in blocking, led by a match-high six blocks from Toone. Chelsey Sandberg (West Jordan, Utah) also had five blocks, while Baird turned in four. Toone needed only 14 swings to get eight kills and registered a .500 hitting percentage with one attack error, while Baird hit .353 on 17 swings for eight kills with two errors. Bartkowiak had a match-high .583 hitting percentage with seven kills on just 12 swings without a single attack error. Haynie chipped in seven digs.
We Are The Champions
After starting the MWC season 0-2, Utah took 14 consecutive conference victories to win the MWC regular-season title.
MWC Conference Title History
The Utes are no strangers to conference success. Through 10 full seasons of MWC play, Utah has three regular-season titles: 2004, 2006, and 2008. The Utes won three MWC Tournament championships in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
During its 14-match MWC win streak, Utah outblocked its opponents 3.46 to 2.02 and held the opposition to a .128 hitting percentage, while converting at a .268 clip.
Rewriting The Record Book
Utah's departing senior class left its mark in nearly every statistical category of the school's record book.
Baird led the team with 1.39 blocks per set and ended her career second in school history with 584 block assists and third with 631 career total blocks. As a team, the Utes were fifth in the country in blocking in the Dec. 14 edition of the NCAA statistics with 2.96 blocks per set. Baird also finished third in school history with a .307 hitting percentage, eighth in aces (106), matches played (125), ninth in attempts (2,825).
Toone averaged 1.37 blocks per set and is second in Utah history with 635 career total blocks. Toone is also third in the school record books at 578 block assists and is tied in ninth place with 53 career solo blocks. Toone is sixth in Utah history in matches played (127) and tied for ninth in solo blocks (53).
Haynie leaves Utah eighth in school history with 1,173 kills and 3,031 attack attempts.
Toone Of Efficiency
In all 26 of their wins, the Utes posted a higher hitting percentage than their opponents. Toone is 12th nationally this season with a .393 mark. She finished third on the team with 252 kills and only 50 errors on 514 swings. Toone ends her career as the school's all-time hitting percentage leader (.345) and reset her own single-season school record in 2008 (.393).
Baird and Haynie were the first set of Ute teammates to have more than 1,000 career kills at the same time in school history. Baird finished seventh in school history with 1,236 career kills, followed by Haynie in eighth place with 1,173.
Painting The MWC Red
Baird was named the MWC Co-Player of the Year, while Haynie, Toone, and Bartkowiak joined Baird on the All-MWC team. In other MWC awards, Baird and Toone claimed seven MWC Player of the Week awards in nine weeks from Oct. 6 to Dec. 1. Baird won the award twice in Oct., twice in Nov. and again on Dec. 1. Toone was named MWC Co-Player of the Week on Oct. 13 and Nov. 3.
Six different Utes had 22 double-double performances this season, including a team-high eight from Haynie.
Launiere For President
Launiere will serve as the President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association beginning Jan. 1, 2009. Launiere reached the 20-win mark for the 13th time in her career and the 12th time in her last 13 seasons. Launiere has a 391-212 career mark (.648).
Utes Climb The Polls
After receiving votes for the first nine weeks of the poll, the Utes earned their first national ranking on Nov. 3, at No. 24 in the Bison/AVCA Coaches Poll. Utah improved one spot for the next three weeks until jumping three spots to No. 18 in the latest rankings.
Outside hitter Brooke McAlister (Pleasant Grove, Utah) and setter McKenzie Odale (Boise, Idaho) will join the Utes in 2009, Launiere announced Nov. 17. McAlister led Pleasant Grove High School to runner-up finish at 5A State Championship and Odale was the starting setter of three state championship teams at Eagle High School in 2006, 2007 and 2008.