"Sweep and streak" best describes the stranglehold that the BYU women's volleyball team continues to have on the University of Utah, with the 14th-ranked Cougars easily dispatching the Lady Utes in three straight games - 15-6, 15-1, 15-4 - in Western Athletic Conference action Monday afternoon.
BYU's three-game victory is a continuation of last year's dominance over Utah, when the Cougars didn't drop a single game to the Lady Utes. In fact, BYU now has won its last 11 meetings with Utah.The Lady Utes seemed to be stuck on a single point in each of Monday's three games. In the first, the Cougars worked up a 13-1 advantage before Utah's Debbie Gibby served five straight points to make it a 13-6 deficit. But BYU closed the door quickly, taking the final two points on a block and a kill by Marinda Gorbahn Ashman.
Utah claimed the first point in the second match, but BYU reeled off 15 unanswered points for a 15-1 victory. The Cougars scored early on a series of blocks and kills in the middle by Laura Warnock, then polished off the Lady Utes on dominating outside hitting by Tea Nieminen and Tumua Matu'u.
BYU again gave up the opening point in the third game, only to string together 11 traight points. Utah claimed three of the next five points to draw within 13-4 before a Lady Ute hitting error and another Ashman-assisted block finalized the game at 15-4 and the match at three straight games.
Nieminen led the Cougars with 15 kills and a .565 hitting percentage and Warnock added another seven kills out of nine attempts for a .777 percentage, as BYU recorded a whopping .346 percentage for the game - 47 kills and 12 errors out of 101 attempts.
As for Utah, Linda Wilcox led with seven kills and a .294 hitting percent, but the Cougars were successful in limiting the attempts of the junior from Idaho Falls who had been leading the squad with a percentage hovering around the .333 mark. Against BYU, Utah's hitting percentage was .073.
The win upped BYU's unbeaten record in Western Athletic Conference play to 3-0, following home victories over Wyoming and Colorado State last weekend.
BYU's overall record stands at 13-4, with losses to top-ranked Nebraska, third-ranked Pacific, fourth-ranked Texas, and Top 20 newcomer Wisconsin.
Monday's lopsided loss by the Lady Utes overshadows a somewhat more successful weekend, when Utah played WAC foes Colorado State and Wyoming a lot closer. Utah's records are 0-3 in the WAC and 6-11 overall - a far cry from the 1-32 overall mark from last year.
Coach Beth Launiere says the Lady Utes have made impressive strides so far this season, considering the sole 1989 victory, the inauguration of her own system as a first-year coach, the less-than-full squad (nine varsity players) and the relatively young team (all nine are underclassmen).