SALT LAKE CITY – Senior middle blocker Erin Redd-Brandon registered a season-high 16 kills on a .467 hitting percentage to go with four blocks as the University of Utah volleyball team edged Washington State (25-17, 25-14, 20-25, 24-26, 15-8) in a Pac-12 Conference match Friday in the Huntsman Center.
In the fifth set, Utah grabbed a critical 3-1 lead to start the frame and would extend out to a six-point lead at 13-7 on the way to a 15-8 advantage. In the finale, Utah limited WSU to a .000 hitting percentage, while junior right-side hitter Shelby Dalton and Redd-Brandon turned in two kills apiece.
Utah (13-2, 2-1 Pac-12) turned in a .253 hitting percentage over the match, compared to a .110 mark for Washington State. The Utes turned down a 13.5-10.0 edge in team blocks. They have outblocked their opponents 13 times this season and are 12-1 overall in that scenario.
“We played really well for the first two sets,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “[Washington State] got some momentum. We knew they were a scrappy, feisty team and they just got some momentum. We stayed strong and were able to pull it out. We had a lot of balance, a lot of people come up for us and we made some good plays when it counted.”
The Utes are now 4-1 in five-set decisions in 2013, while Utah has now won five of the last seven matches against Washington State. The Utes improved to 8-0 this season when winning the first two sets and are now 2-0 in Pac-12 play.
The Ute defense posted a season-high 104 digs, which came up five shy of tying the school record of 109 against Santa Clara on Sept. 21, 1996. Junior libero Lea Adolph set a new career high with 24 digs, while right-side hitter Chelsey Schofield also established a new career high with 22 digs.
“We played really good defense, especially in set five when they couldn’t get a ball down,” Launiere said. “We’ve worked at it and I think we’re playing pretty good defense and it showed up in stats.”
Redd-Brandon turned in her season-high 16 kills on 30 swings for a pair of errors for a .467 hitting percentage to go with five blocks and four digs. This was Redd-Brandon’s sixth double-digit kill effort of the year. With five blocks in the contest, Redd-Brandon moved into fourth place in school history in career block assists and took sole possession of sixth place in school history in total blocks.
Senior outside hitter Morgan Odale recorded her fourth double-double of the season and the 25th of her career. She turned in 13 kills to go with a match-high 20 digs with two blocks. She is now ninth in school history with 993 career digs and is seven shy of joining Utah’s 1,000-dig club.
Junior right-side hitter Alli Spurrier turned in a career-high 12 kills in addition to four blocks. She has reached nine kills on three separate occasions, most recently against Prairie View A&M on Sept. 7, 2013.
Dalton pounded down 12 kills on a .346 hitting percentage along with four blocks and two digs. The Moab, Utah, native now has nine matches with 10 or more kills this season and 17 over her career.
Junior middle blocker Bailey Bateman paced the Ute blockers with a match-high eight blocks accompanied by a .391 hitting percentage for nine kills.
Junior setter Kalee Kirby tied her season high with 35 assists and added 11 digs for her third double-double performance. Her 11 digs was just one off her season-high mark where she had 12 against BYU on Sept. 17.
Sophomore setter Kendall Cygan set up 24 Ute kills as she also turned in a double-double after posting 10 digs. This was her fourth double-double of 2013 and the seventh of her career.
The Utes took the first five points of the opening set and used a 5-0 run to build their lead to as many as nine (14-5). WSU managed to pull within four (14-10) with a 5-0 spurt, but Utah came back promptly with a 4-1 run to regain an eight-point edge (19-11) and cruised to a 25-17 first-set victory. Utah held WSU to a .081 hitting percentage, while going for a .286 efficiency on the attack. Dalton hit .571 for four kills, while Kirby had six assists and five digs
In the second set, there were two ties before back-to-back kills gave the Utes a 4-2 edge. Utah’s lead grew to as many as five (9-4), and WSU cut that to two (11-9). But the back-and-forth affair continued as Utah worked its lead to a 22-13 edge on the way to a 25-14 second-set victory. The Utes hit .467 in the set, compared to just .105 for the Cougars, and Utah earned a 5.0-1.0 edge in team blocks. Redd-Brandon had five kills on a .500 hitting percentage, while Adolph came up with five digs.
The Utes grabbed an early 3-1 lead to start the third frame, but the Cougars came back to assume a 5-4 advantage. The set was tied seven more times, with the last instance coming at 13-all, before WSU earned a 16-13 advantage. The Cougars then led by as many as four, at 21-17, before going on to a 25-20 victory to extend the match. Utah outhit WSU, .200 to .159, and earned a 3.5-3.0 edge in team blocks during the set. Bateman, Dalton and Redd-Brandon each registered three kills to go with seven digs by Schofield.
The Cougars took the first two points of the fourth set and jumped out to a 4-1 edge, but the Utes came back to force the first tie of the set at six points apiece after going on a 5-2 spurt. WSU then scored three consecutive points to grab a 9-6 lead and stretch its advantage out to four (19-15). The Utes responded with an 8-4 burst to force the second tie of the set at 23-23, but the Cougars prevailed with a 26-24 victory. Odale and Spurrier had five kills apiece. Odale also registered eight digs in the fourth.
Washington State (14-2, 1-2 Pac-12) was led by 18 kills and 14 digs by Kyra Holt.
The Utes continue their Pac-12 slate Saturday against No. 1 Washington. First serve from the Huntsman Center is set for 7 p.m. MT, with a live video stream available online.
“We have to be prepared,” Launiere said. “We have to be willing to come in and play physical. They’re a very different team than Washington State. They’re very physical. We’re going to have to play a good match to beat them.”
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