U. SOCCER, VOLLEYBALLUtah's two fall women's teams open their seasons Thursday, with the soccer team visiting San Diego at 2 p.m. and the volleyball team hosting Idaho State at 7 on Crimson Court.
Ute volleyballers, 22-9 in 1997 and 9-5 in the WAC, got a new assistant coach recently when 1997 graduate Jamie Young was hired last week to do video and statistical work and help in recruiting. The Utes also lost someone, middle blocker Kapu Elkington, who had announced intentions to transfer from Hawaii but then did not.The volleyball team, picked to place third in the WAC Pacific Division in a preseason poll of league coaches, returns five starters and seven letter-winners from last year's team that was fourth in the WAC. Three returnees were named to All-WAC teams in '97: outside hitter Sara Shakula, a senior, and junior middle blocker Stacie Greenwalt were both second-teamers, and sophomore Kalani Tonga was named WAC Mountain Division Freshman of the Year and also made the Volleyball Magazine all-freshman team.
Tonga moves this season from middle blocker to outside hitter to fill the shoes of Brenda Barton-Whicker, the Ute all-time leader in kills, attempts, digs and aces.
The two other returning starters are junior setter Graciela Torres and sophomore outside hitter Jen Snow.
Two who redshirted last season will get back into action. Brooke Barton will try to have her sophomore season for the second time. She tore an anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the 1997 preseason and sat out the year. She was a probable starter and second-team all-WAC Mountain Division freshman defensive specialist. Also coming off a redshirt is middle blocker McKelle Stilson.
Idaho State has four starters back from a 7-22 team that tied for eighth in the Big Sky at 4-12.
The Ute soccer team opens its fourth season at home with Utah State at 1 p.m. Friday at Ute Field, but it plays at San Diego Thursday afternoon - the first-ever meeting between the Utes and Toreros, who were 7-12-1 and fourth (4-3) in the West Coast Conference. Utah was 9-11-1 and second in the WAC Pacific Division at 3-2. They made their first-ever appearance in the WAC tournament, losing to Tulsa in the quarterfinals.
All-WAC first-teamer and Ute offensive player of the year Staci Burt is back for her junior year at forward. Burt also made the California Adidas all-tourney team. All-WAC second teamers Dominique Barcellona, now a senior forward, and junior midfielder Karen Boardman are also back.
Utah's starting lineup will likely include Burt, Barcellona and Alli Cerruli at forwards, Dana Bolton, Lorrie Tipton and Tara McNeil in the middle and defenders Jessica Narajowski, Bernie Hogan and Becky Hatch. Senior Tawni Martineau will be in goal.
There are six freshmen, including four from Utah: forward Shauna Gurr of Woods Cross, goalkeeper Courtney Hills of Orem, midfielder Amy Kofoed of Layton and forward/midfielder Lesa Zollinger of Millville.