Utah Volleyball Wins Five-set Thriller over BYU

9/25/2009

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SALT LAKE CITY - Junior opposite hitter Karolina Bartkowiak slammed down a career-high 22 kills to go along with 17 digs and the University of Utah volleyball team won a five-set match over BYU (19-25, 25-19, 27-29, 31-29, 15-10) to give Ute head coach Beth Launiere her 400th career win in front of a school-record 1,747 fans Friday at Crimson Court.

"I thought we battled all night," Launiere said. "We got some nice leads at different points in the match and BYU did a nice job of never letting us run away. They just kept coming back. They took the lead in set four and we were down and out but we battled back. I'm really proud of my team.

"The Utah-BYU match at Crimson Court is always like this and we love it here," Launiere said. "It's our home court. It's a great atmosphere for collegiate volleyball."

Utah (9-5, 3-0 MWC) held a slight .114 to .110 edge in hitting over the course of the match and three different Utes turned in double-digit-kill performances while four others also had double-digit-dig nights for Utah's defense.

The Utes have now won 17 straight Mountain West Conference matches and enjoy a 7-1 mark at Crimson Court this season. Utah holds a commanding 19-2 home record since 2008.

Leading the way for the Utah attack was Bartkowiak, who came up with 22 kills on 39 swings with nine errors for a match-high-tying .333 hitting percentage. Bartkowiak also turned in a career-high of 17 digs for her fourth double-double this season and of her career.

"[Bartkowiak] was great tonight," Launiere said. "She was clearly the go-to player and she came through time after time for us. It was just a big-time performance by her tonight."

Cinthia Silva also turned in a double-double with a career-high 14 kills and 10 digs to go along with another personal best of six blocks. Silva now has seven career double-doubles and three have come in 2009.

Sarah Hibbert had her eighth double-digit-kill performance this season with 14 kills and Hibbert doubled her previous personal best with eight blocks and also added two digs.

Danielle Killpack also set a new career high with a team-best mark of nine blocks to lead the Utes at the net.

Abby Simmons tallied Utah's third double-double of the night with a team-high 31 assists that was paired with a career-high-tying 12 digs. Stephanie Neeley distributed a season-high 27 assists to go along with seven digs for the Utes.

Libero Keisha Fisher now has hit double digits in digs in eight straight matches and 46 times in her career after posting a team-high 18 digs.

There were four ties through the first 14 points of the first set, but the Cougars put together a 5-1 run to nudge out to a 14-10 lead thanks to a trio of BYU blocks. BYU's lead would grow to as many as six points. Utah was outhit .129 to .000 and outblocked 6.5 to 1.5 in the opener. Bartkowiak took seven swings and hit for four kills and Silva came up with three more kills to bolster the Ute attack.

The Utes improved to 4-4 in matches in which they drop the first set.

"Early on, we were making a lot of unforced errors," Launiere said. "But once we settled in, we played a pretty good match."

Utah scored seven of the first eight points of the second set. BYU would claw back to within two points on a pair of occasions. Utah salvaged the set by taking six of the last eight points en route to a 25-19 second-set victory which evened the match. In a defensive struggle, the Utes managed to outhit the Cougars .088 to - .053 and held a 5-2 edge in team blocks. Bartkowiak pounded down four more kills on eight swings to go along with four digs while Silva and Sandberg both posted three blocks apiece.

Down 24-21 in the third set, Utah came back to tie the set at 24 points apiece and even took a 27-26 lead before succumbing by a score of 29-27. The play went back-and-forth throughout the set as there were seven ties early before Utah strung together four consecutive points to assume a 15-10 lead and force a BYU timeout. The Cougars promptly went on a 7-1 streak to take a 17-16 edge. The Cougars stretched their lead to three points before the Utes gained eight of the next eight points to get back into the set.

There were four ties at the start of the fourth set before Utah scored five consecutive points to grab an 11-6 lead. The Utes maintained a three-point lead late into the set (21-18) but could not hold off a 6-3 Cougar charge to tie the set at 24 points apiece. The set was evened five more times, with the last instance at 29-29, before a Silva kill and a BYU attack error kept Utah alive in the match with a 31-29 fourth-set victory. Silva pounded down six kills, while Hibbert was credited with five and Bartkowiak had four.

Utah came out and took a 6-3 edge in the fifth and decisive set and extended its lead to five points, at 12-7, before holding on to a decisive win by the same margin, 15-10. Bartkowiak finished strong with four kills and Utes came together to hit .300 as a team in the set.

BYU (6-7, 2-1 MWC) received a match-high 19 kills from Walker. Morgan Lloyd Sorenson had a match-high 21 digs and Christina Measom posted a match-high 11 blocks.

"I felt like it was going to be a battle," Launiere said. "Our two teams are fairly evenly matched. We knew we needed to do something special because BYU has Walker, she is a tremendous player. I thought we did a nice job of containing her. We carried out our game plan pretty well."

Utah now owns a 3-0 lead over BYU after the first event of the 2009-10 Deseret First Duel. The Deseret First Duel uses a system that awards points to the winner of each head-to-head competition. Points won by each sport will count toward a school's overall total. A team trophy will be awarded to the winner of each sport - and at the conclusion of each school year - a granite traveling trophy will be awarded to the overall rivalry series champion. The next contest in the duel is the Oct. 3 women's soccer match in Provo. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

The Utes hit the road for the first time in conference play as they head to UNLV Oct. 1 for a 6:30 p.m. PT match in Cox Pavilion. The match will be televised live on The Mtn., with Anne Marie Anderson and Amy Gant calling the action from Las Vegas.

 

Article courtesy of the University of Utah Athletics

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