SALT LAKE CITY - The No. 23-ranked Utah Utes closed out the 2014 campaign winning three-straight and seven of its final eight regular-season matches following a 3-1 victory over the No. 18 Colorado Buffs (22-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19) Friday afternoon on Senior Day at the Huntsman Center.
All six Utah seniors, Lea Adolph, Bailey Bateman, Shelby Dalton, Kalee Kirby, Makenzie Moeai and Chelsey Schofield-Olsen, had a hand in the Utes victory as the team finished the regular-season with a record of 19-12 and 9-11 in Pac-12 play. Five of Utahs last seven wins came over ranked opponents and they finish the season with a school-record six wins over top-25-ranked teams.
The nine conference victories ties the school record for most Pac-12 wins that was set last season, while the 9-11 mark could give the Utes a finish as high as seventh-place in league play following the remainder of matches played on Friday.
With the loss, Colorado falls to 19-13 overall and finish the season 11-9 in Pac-12 play.
Dalton led the Utes with five kills in the first set, but it would not be enough as Colorado took the set 25-22. The Buffs opened the match with a service ace and later took a 12-7 lead following a 5-0 run. Utah later trailed 17-12 before Schofield-Olsens ace closed out a 6-1 run, which tied the match at 18-18. The two teams would trade points until a 2-0 put the Buffs up 22-20 and that forced the Utes to call a timeout, but CU closed the set winning three of the final four points.
Not even a 6-0 run to open set two would stop the Utes from coming back to win the second set, 25-22. Following the Buffs six-straight points, Utah called a timeout and then proceeded to score 12 of the next 16 points to take a 12-10 lead. CU came back with a 3-0 run and then the two squads traded points until a block from Bateman gave Utah an 18-16 lead. Bateman then collected three kills and a pair of blocks over Utahs 7-3 run as Utah pushed its lead to 23-19. The Buffs would manage to pull within two points, but Utah closed out the set on a pair of CU attack errors to tie the match at 1-1 heading into intermission.
Colorado was forced to call its two timeouts before even recording its fifth point of the third set, as Utah opened with a 7-1 run and then later used a 5-0 run to go up 15-4. The Buffs countered with a 4-1 run and later managed to pull within five points, down 24-19, with a 5-1 run and that forced Utah to call a timeout as well. Out of the break though, Dalton connected on her 12 kill of the afternoon to give Utah the 25-19 set win and take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set.
A pair of kills from Dalton helped give Utah an early 4-2 lead and the team would later push its lead to 10-4 following a 6-2 run. Down 12-6, Colorado would later go on a 6-2 run to pull within two points of Utah (14-12), but the Utes countered with a 4-1 run to go up 18-13 and force the Buffs to call a timeout. Bateman later recorded a kill and had a block to make it 21-15 in favor of the Utes, while a pair of kills from Kirby and Dalton gave the home squad match-point, up 24-17. Colorado would strike with two quick points, but Schofield-Olsen put the match away with a kil to give Utah the win 25-19.
Dalton finished the afternoon with a match-high 14 kills on .314 hitting and Bateman followed with 12 kills on .450 hitting and a match-high seven total blocks. Schofield-Olsen recorded 10 kills and had a pair of service aces, while Kirby notched her 12th double-double of the season with 27 assists and 14 digs. Adolph had 14 digs in the victory and had an assist in the match as well.
The Utes hit just .200 in the match, but the Utah defense limited Colorado to just a .113 hitting percentage in the match - .135 points off its season average of .248.
Alexis Austin led the Buffs with 14 kills and 14 digs in the match, while Nicole Edelman tallied a match-high 30 assists.
The Utes will now await word for an at-large big into the 2014 NCAA Division I Tournament, with selections set to be released Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. (MST). The selection show will be aired live on ESNPU.