SALT LAKE CITY – Three Utes registered 10 or more kills on the attack, but the University of Utah volleyball team fell in a five-set decision to Arizona (23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25, 7-15) on Friday at Crimson Court.
Utah (10-10, 1-6 Pac-12) hit for a .247 clip, while outblocking the Wildcats, 14.0 to 6.0, but the Utes fell to 2-2 on this season.
“We were rolling statistically early on,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “We were holding Arizona to low hitting percentages and we were well above our average. Then the match turned, but I never felt like we were falling. It was a battle all night."
Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield posted a team-high 15 kills to go with 12 digs and three blocks for her sixth double-double of the year and the 14th of her career.
"[Schofield] does a good job when she's being aggressive,” Launiere said. “She was really aggressive tonight. [Schofield], Morgan [Odale] and Erin [Redd] all carried a nice load for us offensively."
Redd, a junior middle blocker from Spanish Fork, Utah, turned in a team-high .526 hitting percentage with 11 kills on 19 swings with just one error. She also added six blocks to go with two digs.
Morgan Odale reached double-figures in kills for the 11th time this season and the 49th time of her career. She pounded down 10 kills and had nine digs, which just missed her 19th career double-double of the season.
Freshman setter Kendall Cygan contributed a team-high 25 assists to go with a career-high 16 digs for her third career double-double. McKenzie Odale added 23 assists and three digs.
Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman and Shelby Dalton supplemented the Ute attack with eight kills apiece. Bateman gathered her eight kills on 15 attempts with just two errors for a .400 efficiency in addition to a match-high seven blocks. Freshman right-side hitter Tjasa Kotnik turned in four blocks and three kills.
The Wildcats grabbed four of the first five points of the match and led by as many as five (8-3), before the Utes countered with a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the set at 9-8. Utah lept out to a two-point lead, 11-9, but the set would be even four more times (11, 12, 13 and 15) before the U of A went on a 3-0 run to assume an 18-15 edge and would lead by as many as four (22-18) before the Utes cut their deficit in half at 23-21. Unfortunately, Utah dropped the opener to Arizona, 25-22. However, the Utes outhit the Wildcats, .208 to .156, and earned a 4.0 to 2.0 edge in blocking. Schofield had four kills to pace the Ute attack along with three kills from Redd, who also chipped in four blocks. Kotnik added three blocks to Utah’s defensive effort at the net, as well.
Once again, Arizona got off to a quick start by taking three of the first four points in the second frame. U of A would lead by as many as six (10-4), but Utah rallied with a 6-1 spurt to cut its deficit down to one (13-12). The Utes fought back from an 18-15 advantage with four straight score to assume 19-18 lead. The set would be tied five more times (19, 20, 21, 22, 23) before a bad set by the Wildcats and a Morgan Odale kill gave the Utes a 25-23 win over Arizona. Morgan Odale pounded five kills on seven swings for a .714 hitting percentage as the Utes hit .289, compared to .156 for the Wildcats, and Utah outblocked Arizona in the set, 3-0.
There were 14 ties in the third set, the last coming at 16 points apiece as Utah inched out to an 18-16 advantage. Arizona then forced the 15th tie of the frame at 19-19 and the teams would be even at 20 and 21 before the Wildcats inched out to a 24-21 lead and eventually claimed the set, 25-22. Utah fell to Arizona in the third, 25-22 with Dalton and Schofield both going for four kills apiece to lead the Utes to a .333 hitting percentage. Unfortunately, Arizona was able to go for a .438 in the frame, while grabbing a 2-1 edge in the match. A total of 17 ties occurred in the frame alone.
The fourth frame was tied twice before Utah sprinted to a 5-2 edge thanks to a 3-0 run. Arizona responded with a 7-0 run to seize a 9-5 edge. The back-and-forth action continued as Utes put together a 6-2 spurt to force the fourth tie of the set at 11 points apiece. The set would be even at 12-12, but then three consecutive Wildcat scores gave them a 15-12 edge. Utah fought back by taking five of the next seven points to knot the set at 17 points apiece. The teams would be even three more times as the Utes were able to earn a 22-20 lead and take a 25-23 fourth-set victory. Schofield turned in five kills and Bateman had three blocks as the Utes earned a 5.0-3.0 edge in team blocking.
The Wildcats took six of the opening seven points of the finale and would lead by as many as seven (9-2). Utah came to within five at 12-7 but could pull no closer as Arizona took a 15-7 decision to clinch the match.
Arizona (10-8, 2-5 Pac-12) was led by a 28-kill, 14-dig performance by Madi Kingdon.
The Utes face Arizona State on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT. The match will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network (Regional) with Kevin Barnett (PBP) and Al Scates (Analyst) calling the action.
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