SALT LAKE CITY – Sophomore Chelsey Schofield delivered 11 kills, seven blocks and six digs to lead the University of Utah volleyball team to its third consecutive victory by a 3-0 margin, this time over Utah Valley (25-18, 25-17, 25-19), in the first match of the 2012 Utah Classic Tuesday night at Crimson Court.
Utah has won its first five matches this season. This year’s squad is now tied with the 2002 team for the third-best start in school history.
“It is great, but we take one point and one game at a time,” Schofield said. “It feels good to know we have started so well, but we need to keep going and try hard to win the next game.”
Utah hit for a .236 hitting percentage in the contest, compared to a .034 mark for Utah Valley. The Utes posted an 18.0-7.5 edge in team blocks to earn its fourth victory by sweep in just five matches this season.
“We put together a pretty nice match,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “Obviously, we blocked very well and started getting our offense going as the match went on. We sputtered a little bit early on. One of the things that happen this time of year is that you are playing so much and you don’t have the practice time. We felt like we just need to get a good practice in tomorrow and we will be ready to go again. You get into a rhythm after playing a lot. We played four matches at Utah State and we got into a rhythm up there, but now we are in a different environment. We sputtered a little bit early on, but we worked our way out of it and we blocked really well the entire match.”
Schofield connected for her 11 kills on 24 attempts with just five errors for a .250 hitting percentage. The Provo, Utah native also had six block assists and one solo block.
“[Schofield] gets kills and passes for us,” Launiere said. “But the thing people don’t realize is that she is a very good blocker. For a left-side player, she is one of the best in the country. She just had a nice, solid all-around match.”
Schofield said that the team's offense and defense were on tonight.
“We have been working a lot on all aspects of our offense,” Schofield said. “We also did a good job of blocking tonight. The coaches told us to be aggressive and that is what we did. The whole team stepped up tonight and all of our stats are close so that tells you how good of a team we are and how well we work together.”
Junior outside hitter Morgan Odale was the other Ute in double figures in kills. The Star, Idaho native hit for a .250 percentage, as well with 10 kills on 20 swings and five miscues for a .250 hitting percentage. She also contributed five digs and three blocks.
Senior setter McKenzie Odale coordinated the Ute attack with 30 assists and also turned in five blocks and four digs.
Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman tied her career-high mark with a match-high eight blocks, while junior middle blocker Erin Redd added seven.
The Wolverines scored six of the first eight points of the opening set, but the Utes closed the gap to one point with four consecutive points to bring the set to a 6-5 advantage and finally tied the set for the second time at seven points apiece and took their first lead at 9-8. The sixth and final tie of the set came 12-12 before Utah reeled off three straight points to seize its largest lead of the set to that point, 15-12. Utah’s lead grew to as many as seven as it took the set, 25-17. Schofield had seven kills to go with three blocks, and the Utes outhit UVU, .333 to .097. The Utes outblocked the Wolverines, 4.0 to 0.0 in the opener.
Utah jumped out to a 3-1 advantage early in the second frame and built its lead to four points on three occasions, the last coming at 13-9, before a kill from Sim gave the Utes a six point edge, 15-9. Utah kept the pressure up and went on to a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-18 second victory. Dalton posted three kills and a pair of blocks as Utah outhit UVU, .167 to -.062, in the set and carried an 8.0-3.0 edge in team blocks.
The third frame saw the Utes take five of the first six points, including a pair of kills by sophomore middle blocker Alli Spurrier. Utah went on to lead by as many as six (9-3) before UVU cut its deficit to two with a 5-1 spurt. The back-and-forth continued as the Utes fought back to push their lead back to six (16-10), and the Wolverines came back to once again make it a three-point margin at 16-13. The Utes were able to hold their lead and prevailed with a 25-19 win to clinch the match. Morgan Odale registered team-high marks with four kills and three digs in the third frame alone, while Redd came up with four of her seven blocks in the match in the finale.
The Utes now lead the all-time series with the Wolverines, 8-1.
“The crowd helped energize us,” Schofield said. “It was really great to be home. It is always nice to play on our home court. There is a ton of pride in protecting our home court and our entire team had that pride. It is just great to be home.”
Utah Valley (1-3) was led by eight kills by Lindsay Morrell.
Utah returns to the road this weekend for the UC Davis Aggie Invitational, which begins Friday against Santa Clara at 11 a.m. PT. The Utah Classic resumes on Friday, Sept. 14, as the Utes host Cal Poly at 12 p.m. MT and Nevada at 7 p.m. MT.
Mike DeVine is an assistant athletic communications director for the University of Utah.