PROVO, Utah – Four Utes registered double-double performances to lead the University of Utah volleyball team to a five-set victory (29-27, 26-28, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11) over Bowling Green Saturday in its final match of the BYU Invitational in Smith Fieldhouse.
“I am so proud of our team’s perseverance tonight,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “We were tired and things weren’t working, but we just kept talking about ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get.’ And finally, we started getting some breaks and our hard work paid off. We definitely stuck with it and I was really proud of my team for that.”
Utah (7-4) compiled an 18.5 to 4.0 advantage in team blocks over Bowling Green.
“We just started blocking tonight,” Launiere said. “We have been on our team non-stop about getting over [the net] and blocking balls. Once we did that, we were able to play defense behind [our block] and things started rolling for us.”
The Utes also earned a .277 to .226 edge in hitting percentage over BGSU. The Ute defense corralled 95 digs in the match, compared to just 77 for the Falcons.
The match was competitive throughout as there were a total of 33 ties in the first four sets before Utah assumed control of the match in the fifth frame that helped the Utes improve to 2-1 this season in five-set matches in 2012.
Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Bateman came up with her first career double-double as she established a new career-high marks with 14 kills on just 22 swings for a .636 hitting percentage to go along with a career-high 12 blocks. Bateman finished just one shy of tying the school-record mark for block assists in a five-set match of 13, which was set by her teammate Erin Redd earlier this season in Utah’s win at Utah State on Aug. 24.
“[Bailey] played well offensively, but we were even more happy about her blocking,” Launiere said.
Junior outside hitter Morgan Odale turned in her second straight double-double, and the 10th of her career, with a team-high 18 kills on a .364 hitting percentage to go along with 13 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield came up with 16 kills and 15 digs for her fourth double-double in 2012 and the 12th of her career. The Provo, Utah native has hit 10 or more kills in 10 of 11 matches to start this season and has recorded 10 or more digs for the fifth time in 2012.
In her first career start, freshman setter Kendall Cygan became the fourth Ute to reach double-double status as she distributed a season-high 48 assists and turned up a career-high 11 digs for her first career double-double.
“Kendall set a nice match for us,” Launiere said. “It was her first start and she got our offense going.”
Redd was the fourth Ute to hit double-digits in kills as she had 10 to go with six blocks and four digs.
In the back row of the Ute defense, sophomore Lea Adolph, in her second straight start at libero, established a new career-high with 20 digs.
“We have been trying so hard and working in practice,” Adolph said. “It just finally worked out and we got a win and we’re proud of that. No matter what happens in a match, we have to focus on the next ball. We just knew that we could win after losing the first two sets and everyone believed in it.”
The Utes tallied three of the first four points in the opener before the Falcons forced the first tie of the contest at four points apiece. Utah built a three-point edge at 8-5 with a 4-1 spurt, but BGSU re-tied the set at 10-10. The Falcons used a 5-2 run to grab a 15-12 advantage. The Utes found themselves down 18-14, but quickly took three consecutive scores to pull within a point, but could not prevent BGSU scoring four straight to extend to a 22-17 edge. Utah fired right back with a 4-0 run of its own to come within a point again (22-21) and would eventually force the fourth tie of the frame at 24-24. The set would be knotted three more times (at 25, 26 and 27) before a Bateman kill and Cygan’s second career service ace gave the Utes a 29-27 comeback victory. In total, the Utes closed strong with a 12-5 run. Schofield had six kills, while Bateman registered five kills on five swings for a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage and also turned in four blocks. Cygan had 12 assists in the frame as well.
The back-and-forth affair continued as there were five ties in the second frame before a 3-0 Utah run gave the Utes a slight 10-8 edge over the Falcons. A 13-10 lead was in Utah’s favor, but BGSU tied the set for the seventh time with a 4-1 streak. The Utes promptly took four of the next five scores to jump to a 19-15 lead. The Falcons fought back with four more unanswered points to tie the frame for the eighth time (19-19). The action would be tied seven more times and the Utes broke set point three different times, but the Ute rally came up short and the Falcons took a 28-26 victory. Schofield had six kills and four digs, while Morgan Odale had four kills on nine swings for a .444 hitting percentage in the set.
The teams started the third frame by trading 3-0 runs, and the teams would be equal two more times before BGSU was able to grab a lead that would grow to as many as seven, 21-14. The Utes rallied with four unanswered scores to cut their deficit to three, 21-18. Unfortunately, Utah could get no closer and BGSU claimed its second straight set win, 25-21.
The fourth set started in similar fashion to the third with the teams being equal at four points early in the set before Utah gained an 8-5 advantage thanks to a 4-1 spurt. BGSU put together its own 4-1 run to tie the set for the fifth time at 10-10. There would be one more tie at 11 points apiece before the Falcons picked up a 14-11 edge via three unanswered scores. Utah came back to tie it up at 14-14, and the contest would be tied on three more occasions before the Utes pieced together back-to-back points to climb to a 20-18 lead. Utah’s lead grew to as many as three (23-20) en route to 25-22 victory.
Utah set the tone from the start in the fifth set as the Utes came away with five of the first six points in the finale and led by as many as eight (10-2) and never relinquished their lead en route to a 15-11 win to clinch the match.
Bowling Green (2-6) was led by a match-high 30 kills by Paige Penrod, who also posted a team-high 19 digs. Falcon setter Laura Avila dished out 64 assists.
The Utes host their annual Utah Classic next Friday at Crimson Court, beginning against Cal Poly at 12 p.m. and Nevada at 7 p.m.