Utah volleyball: Utes beat UC Davis in three sets

By Mike DeVine

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 1 2012 1:43 a.m. MDT

DAVIS, Calif. – Five different Utes had seven or more kills to help the University of Utah volleyball team pick up a three-set victory at UC Davis (25-14, 25-22, 25-21) Friday night in its second match of the Aggie Invitational.

Utah (6-1) hit for a season-high .359 hitting percentage on the attack, while only committing 10 errors throughout the match. The Utes held a 12.0 to 3.0 advantage in team blocks over the Aggies, a season-low for a Utah opponent this season. Five of Utah’s six victories this season have come via a 3-0 sweep.

The Utes featured a balanced attack as five players posting seven or more kills in the three-set match.

Sophomore middle blocker Erin Redd collected 11 kills on just 17 attempts with only one miscue for a season-high .588 hitting percentage for her second straight match hitting over .500.

Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield posted a match-high 12 kills to go along with four digs. She has had 10 or more kills in 12 straight matches, including all seven contests in 2012.

Shelby Dalton and Bailey Bateman added eight kills apiece, while Morgan Odale contributed seven kills and eight digs. Bateman connected on eight of her 10 swings without an error for a match-high .800 hitting percentage.

Senior setter McKenzie Odale set up the Ute attack with 34 assists.

Defensively, Dalton and Bateman turned in seven blocks apiece to tie for match-high honors, while junior libero Nikki Sim had a match-high 12 digs, her fifth double-figure dig match through seven contests this season.

Freshman Tjasa Kotnik made her Utah debut and registered three digs and a service ace. Classmate Amanda Wasko served a team and career-high two aces.

The Utes grabbed seven of the first eight points of the match and went on to lead by as many as 11, which would be the final margin, en route to a 25-14 win. Utah has won the first set in six of seven matches this season and was led by five kills from Dalton after only committing one error on seven attack attempts for a team-high .571 hitting percentage. The Utes posted an impressive .448 hitting percentage as a team, compared to just .034 for the Aggies. Utah earned a 4.0 to 1.0 advantage in team blocks during the opener.

The match tightened up in the second set as UC Davis opened with a 4-1 lead before Utah was able to even the set for the first time at nine points apiece. There would be six more ties, the last coming at 21-21, as Utah closed with a fierce 4-1 rally to seize a 25-22 second-set victory as well as a 2-0 lead in the match. The Utes’ hitting percentage dipped to .238 in the set, but Utah did limit the Aggies to a .114 clip on the attack.

Tie scores were frequent in the third frame as there were seven ties, the last coming at 8-8, as the Utes grabbed an 11-8 lead with three straight scores. Utah’s lead would grow to as many as eight at 19-11 after putting together a 5-0 run. The Utes maintained their advantage and earned a 25-21 win in the third frame to take the match, 3-0. Bateman slammed a team-high five kills in the finale to go along with three blocks, while Utah continued to dominate the block with a 5.0 to 1.0 edge over UCD. The Utes managed to hit for a .400 mark in the third frame and held the Aggies to a .034 hitting percentage.

UC Davis (2-2) was led by eight kills by Allison Whitson, who also collected six digs. Victoria Lee posted a team-high three blocks, while Caroline Mercado took match-high honors with 14 digs.

The Utes conclude their Aggie Invitational schedule by playing North Carolina tomorrow at 1 p.m. PT. Fans are urged to follow the live stats at http://utahutes.cstv.com/gametracker/launch/gt_wvolley.html?event=1117767&school=utah&sport=wvolley&camefrom=&startschool=&.

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