LOGAN, Utah – Junior middle blocker Erin Redd was named Utah State Invitational Most Valuable Player after registering a match-high 13 kills to help the University of Utah volleyball team win the USU Invite after downing Portland (25-9, 25-21, 25-21) on Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah has started the season 4-0 for the first time since 2009 and outhit Portland .301 to .077, while also earning an 11.0 to 6.0 advantage in team blocking. The Utes have outblocked their opponents in three of four matches in 2012.
“It was such a good overall team effort,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “Over the course of four matches, it takes a lot of different people to get things done at different times because it’s hard to be great for that long a period of time. Different people came up big for us at different times.
“Utah State did a great job hosting the tournament,” Launiere said. “It was a good competition and a first-class event. We’re very happy to go up there and get four wins. We earned it, but have a lot of things to work on, but we felt like it was a good opening weekend.”
Redd posted 13 kills on 21 swings with only three errors for a .476 hitting percentage. The Spanish Fork, Utah native hit .395 over the weekend with 2.93 kills, 1.14 blocks and 0.43 service aces per set.
“[Redd] got hot in the middle of the Utah State match and then never let up,” Launiere said. “She got a lot of kills for us and when she wasn’t getting kills she was distracting a lot of people. She was big both offensively and defensively for us.”
Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield, senior setter McKenzie Odale and junior outside hitter Morgan Odale were each named to the All-Tournament team.
Schofield added 11 kills on 30 swings to go with three blocks against Portland. Over the weekend, the Provo, Utah native posted a team-high 3.79 kills per set as well as 1.64 digs and 1.00 blocks per set.
Morgan Odale posted 17 digs and had six kills against the Pilots, while senior setter McKenzie Odale coordinated the Ute attack with 41 assists.
Sophomore Shelby Dalton turned in eight kills on 15 attempts to go with four blocks on the day.
Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman turned in a match-high eight blocks and currently leads the team with 1.62 blocks per set.
The opening set was tied three times before the Utes inched out to an 8-4 lead thanks to back-to-back kills by Redd and went on to lead by as many as 13 (21-8) after a 12-1 spurt to break the set open and take a 25-9 victory. Utah hit .370 in the opener, while UP went for -.094, and the Utes enjoyed a 6-2 edge in team blocks. Redd totaled five kills on the attack, while Bateman had four blocks.
The second frame was even three times before Utah separated itself with a 6-1 run that gave the Utes a 10-5 advantage. Utah’s lead grew to as many as eight (16-8), but Portland put together an 8-1 stretch to pull within a point, 17-16. The Pilots were able to stay within a point until the 20-19 mark, but that’s when the Utes began their 5-2 closing push en route to a 25-21 victory. Redd and Morgan Odale had four kills apiece in the set as the Utes outhit the Pilots .244 to .103.
UP took the first three points of the third set, but Utah quickly forced the first tie of the set at six points apiece after stringing together three straight points. The frame would be tied six more times in a back-and-forth affair as Utah, the last coming at 21-21, as the Utes once again kicked in strong toward the end with a 5-1 run to take a 25-21 victory as well as the match.Comment on this story
Portland (1-3) was led by 10 kills from Emily Liger and 14 assists from Monica Jordan.
“It was a good start to our season,” Launiere said. “We handled a lot of ebbs and flows over the course of the weekend. We were pretty steady for the most part, but we definitely got into some situations where we had to respond and we handled the pressure and stayed calm so we were able to put ourselves into a position to make some plays late in games.”
The Utes host their home opener Tuesday against Utah Valley at 7 p.m. Follow live stats of the action at http://utahutes.cstv.com/gametracker/launch/gt_wvolley.html?event=1134117&school=utah&sport=wvolley&camefrom=&startschool=&.
Mike DeVine is an assistant athletic communications director for the University of Utah.