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U of U volleyball: Utah volleyball falls in Pac-12 opener at Colorado

By Mike DeVine

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 10:49 p.m. MDT

BOULDER, Colo. – Junior outside hitter Morgan Odale turned in her seventh double-digit-kill performance of the year, but the University of Utah volleyball team lost a 3-0 decision in its Pac-12 Conference opener at Colorado (21-25, 20-25, 21-25) Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.

Utah (9-5, 0-1 Pac-12) held a 3-1 advantage in service aces over Colorado but could not overcome the Buffaloes’ .299-.149 advantage in team hitting as well as a 14.0-6.0 edge in team blocks.

Odale registered a team-high 13 kills on 31 swings with six errors for a .226 hitting percentage, while also turning in six digs and serving a pair of aces. The Star, Idaho, native now has hit 10 or more kills in 45 career matches.

Junior middle blocker Erin Redd was second on the team with nine kills on 17 attack attempts and just two errors for a team-high .412 hitting percentage.

Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman had seven kills with just three errors on 14 attempts with a .286 efficiency. She also turned in three blocks, which was second on the squad.

In her fourth-consecutive start, freshman setter Kendall Cygan coordinated the Ute attack with 18 assists, while senior setter McKenzie Odale added 16.

Defensively, sophomore Shelby Dalton posted a team-high four blocks to go with three digs. In the back row of the Ute defense, junior libero Nikki Sim turned up a team-high eight digs.

The first set was tied twice early on, but Colorado grabbed a 5-4 lead which it would never relinquish. However, when they were down 23-16 later in the set, the Utes launched a 5-0 run to close within two (23-21) but could not complete the comeback. Bateman paced the Utah attack with four kills on six swings for a .667 hitting percentage to go with two blocks, while Morgan Odale had three kills and a pair of service aces.

The Buffaloes got out to a 4-0 lead in the second set and would lead by as many as six (9-3) before turning in a 7-2 spurt to pull within a point at 11-10. The Utes were within a point on three more occasions before CU answered with six consecutive scores to extend to a 20-13 edge. Down 21-15, the Utes put together a 6-2 stretch to bring themselves to within a pair of scores but could not avoid a 25-20 defeat.

CU jumped out to a four point-point edge to start the third frame (8-4) before the Utes came up with a 5-1 run to tie the set for the first time at nine points apiece. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes took six of the next eight points to move out to a 15-11 lead. Utah cut its deficit to two points three more times, the last coming at 22-20, but came up short in a 25-21 third-set loss.

Colorado (11-2, 1-0 Pac-12) was led by Neira Ortiz Ruiz hit for a match-high 14 kills, while committing just one miscue on 23 swings for a .565 hitting percentage.

The Utes return to the Huntsman Center for the first time since 1993 when they face No. 6 Stanford on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. The match will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.

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