Utah volleyball: Utes fall to No. 1 Washington

By Mike DeVine

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5 2013 10:40 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY – Junior right-side hitter Shelby Dalton turned in her sixth consecutive match with 10 or more kills as the University of Utah volleyball team lost to No. 1 Washington, 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 30-28), in a Pac-12 Conference match Saturday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Utah (13-3, 2-2 Pac-12) was led offensively by Dalton, who recorded her sixth straight double-figure kill effort with 11 kills on 25 attempts with a pair of errors on 25 swings for a .360 hitting percentage. The Moab, Utah, native now has 10 matches with 10 or more kills this season and 18 over her career. She also had four digs and two blocks.

“It was a pretty high level of volleyball being played out there,” head coach Beth Launiere said. “Except in the middle of set two, we got stuck in a rotation and then we just couldn't get it back. [Washington] just started digging everything in set two and I think our level dropped off significantly. We just couldn't score and they were digging everything. I was pleased with a lot of things. Some things we have to get better. In set three, we played with a lot of heart and we battled. Everybody was laying it on the line. In general, it was good volleyball played by both teams.”

Junior right-side hitter Alli Spurrier turned in seven kills with only one error with 13 swings for a .462 hitting percentage to go with three blocks and a pair of blocks.

Senior middle blocker Erin Redd-Brandon had seven kills in addition to three blocks and a pair of digs. She now has 966 career kills as well as 478 career blocks (453 block assists and 25 block solos.)

Senior outside hitter Morgan Odale recorded seven digs and four kills to become the eighth member of Utah’s 1,000-dig club, and she is ninth in school history with 1,000 career digs. She now has 1,164 career kills and 111 career aces. Odale is one of three players in school history to be a member of three of Utah's milestone clubs, along with Jenni Eyre (1984-87) and Lori Baird (2005-08).

“It’s great,” Launiere said. “It’s such an accomplishment to achieve that. I am happy for her and proud of her.”

Junior right-side hitter Makenzie Moea’i added six kills, three digs, three blocks and a service ace.

Sophomore setter Kendall Cygan distributed 19 assists to go with nine digs, while junior Kalee Kirby handed out 16 assists and had a pair of digs and an ace.

Junior libero Lea Adolph tied Cygan for match-high honors with nine digs in the Ute back row.

The Utes grabbed the first two points of the match, but the Huskies came back to tie the set three times with the last instance coming at 5-5. UW then gained an 8-5 advantage, but Utah came back with a 4-1 stretch to force the fourth tie of the frame at nine points apiece. The set would be tied four more times (13-13) as the Utes extended to a three-point advantage at 17-14 and maintained that margin until the 22-19 point. UW took back-to-back scores to pull within a point (22-21) but came back to earn a 24-23 advantage and would go on to a 25-23 victory. Utah held UW to a .098 hitting percentage, while Odale, Redd-Brandon and Spurrier each had three kills. Defensively, Cygan came up with seven digs from her setter position.

The second frame saw Washington edge out to a 3-1 lead, but Utah responded with back-to-back scores to tie the set for the second time at 3-all. The set was tied again at 5-5 as the Utes posted a 3-1 run to grab an 8-6 advantage. The fourth tie came as part of a 6-0 UW run that gave the Huskies a 12-8 edge, and the Huskies would build their advantage to as many as 10 (21-11) on the way to a win by the same margin, 25-15. Moea’i and Dalton had three kills apiece, while Adolph had five digs.

In the third frame, there were five ties (8-8) as Utah gained an 11-8 lead with three scores for its biggest lead of the set. The Huskies trimmed that lead to one (12-11) and managed to re-tie the set at 17 points. The set would be tied nine more times (28-28). The Utes fought off three match points by the Huskies, but UW finally prevailed with a 30-28 victory. Dalton turned in six kills on seven swings without an error for a .857 hitting percentage as Utah outhit Washington in the finale, .303 to .258.

No. 1 Washington (11-1, 3-1 Pac-12) was led by 13 kills from Kaleigh Nelson and 14 digs by Cassie Strickland.

The Utes travel to No. 7 Stanford on Friday at 6 p.m. PT, before facing California on Sunday at 7 p.m. MT.

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