LOGAN, Utah – Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield pounded 21 kills and set a career-high eight blocks as the University of Utah volleyball team withstood a furious Utah State comeback to take a 3-2 win over the Aggies (21-25, 25-10, 25-17, 23-25, 16-14) on Friday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as part of the USU Invitational presented by Gossner Foods.
Utah (2-0) held a .155 to .045 advantage in team hitting percentage over Utah State for the match and also posted a 20.0 to 15.5 advantage in team blocks, which came after getting outblocked 8.0 to 3.0 in the first set.
“The key to this match was that different people came up big at different times,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “Morgan [Odale] and [Schofield] were really good early on and carried us early on, and then Erin [Redd] and Shelby [Dalton] got hot later on. Bailey [Bateman] had her moments and Lea [Adolph] was really good serving at times, while Nikki [Sim] played some great defense. It was a total team effort with different people coming up big a different times through the course of a five-set match.”
Schofield fell just one kill shy of tying her career high for kills as she went for 21 on 46 attempts for a .261 attack percentage. The Provo, Utah native also added a career-high eight blocks to go with seven digs.
Redd posted a match-high 13 block assists, which sets a new school record for block assists in a five-set match. Redd, a Spanish Fork, Utah native, also had her first double-figure-kill match of the season with 12 on 22 swings for a team-high .318 hitting percentage (minimum five attack attempts). Redd also served a team-high three aces, her second consecutive three-ace match to start the 2012 season
“Our block was one of the biggest keys of the match,” Launiere said. “Utah State was just swinging free in set 1 because they didn’t have anything in front of them. Once we started getting some blocks that changed the dynamic of the match.”
Morgan Odale turned in 15 kills for second straight double-figure-kill effort along with eight digs and four blocks. Shelby Dalton added nine kills, three digs and a block.
Senior setter McKenzie Odale distributed a career-high 59 assists for her second career match with 50 or more assists. She also pitched in a career-high seven blocks as well as nine digs.
In the back row of the Ute defense, junior libero Nikki Sim totaled her second straight double-digit-dig match with a match-high 18.
There were six ties early in the first set as each team traded runs before USU scored four straight points to assume a 13-9 edge. The Utes re-tied the set with a 5-1 spurt to even the set at 14 points apiece. There was one more tie at 15-15 before a 4-1 Aggie run set them apart and to give the Utes their first-set victory. Morgan Odale turned in a match-high six kills in the opener, and Utah held USU to a .133 hitting % on the attack but was outblocked 8.0 to 3.0.
“[Between the first and second set] we just talked about staying calm,” Launiere said. “We were a little shaky to start in game 1. We’ve been talking all along about trusting our training and trusting our system. We’ve been working hard so we just have to stay with it and let it come. And then we started seeing some success. We were really good is set 2 so it wasn’t anything drastic. I didn’t yell at the players or anything like that. I just reminded them to stay calm and play our game.”
Back-to-back kills by Dalton got Utah off to a solid start in the second frame to help the Utes grab a 4-0 lead. Utah pushed its advantage to 12 points, at 14-2, via a 9-0 stretch, and led by as many as 15 (21-6) before taking a 25-10 second-set win. Schofield had six kills in the set to pace the Utah attack, and the Utes outblocked the Aggies, 6.0 to 1.0. The Ute defense kept the pressure on the Aggies, forcing USU to hit for a -.071 hitting percentage.
The third set was tied twice before Utah took seven out of the next nine points to seize an 11-6 edge. USU closed to within one (15-14) after a 4-0 Aggie run. The Utah defense held USU to a -.067 hitting percentage in the frame, while Schofield had six more kills in the set alone.
The fourth frame began with Utah taking eight of the first 10 points and would take an 18-10 lead after reeling off six consecutive points. USU managed to cut the deficit to tie the set for the second time at 24-24 by putting together a 9-2 spurt. Redd paced the Ute attack with six kills in the fourth frame alone to go with three blocks.
The fifth set was knotted twice before the Utes took four of five to claim a 6-3 lead before an 8-2 response from the Aggies gave the home team an 11-8 advantage. Yet the back-and-forth affair continued as Utah responded with a 4-1 stretch to tie the set for the fourth time at 12 points apiece. The match would be tied two more times (at 13 and 14) before a Schofield kill and block by Redd and Morgan Odale clinched the victory for the Utes.
“No one wants to lose that lead like we did in set 4,” Launiere said. “But we did. It happened. And we were talking in set 5 about the same thing; we need to trust our training and our system while staying calm and sticking with it to give ourselves a chance to make a play. And we were able to make some plays at the end.”
The Utes are now 44-25 all-time against Utah State, while Launiere is 25-6 against the Aggies at the Utah helm.
Utah State (1-1) was led by 11 kills from Shay Sorensen and 12 digs by Paige Neves.
Utah will conclude play at the Utah State Invitational presented by Gossner Foods with another doubleheader tomorrow, starting against Weber State at 12 p.m., then against Portland at 5 p.m.
Mike DeVine is an assistant athletic communications director for the University of Utah.