SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah volleyball team held statistical advantages in hitting, team blocks and service aces over No. 6 Stanford but fell in a four-set decision (25-17, 22-25, 23-25, 25-27) on Friday in front of 2,218 fans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
In the program’s first match in the Huntsman Center since 1993, Utah (9-6, 0-2 Pac-12) held a .196-.192 edge in hitting percentage, a 15.0-11.0 advantage in team blocks, as well as a 4-3 lead in service aces over No. 6 Stanford.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “It was an unbelievable and a fun night. We were excited to play and about the Black Out. To have that kind of crowd and to play in the Huntsman Center was something special. It was a special night. Our team came to play and we almost came away with a big win."
Launiere said statistically her team did all it could.
"We actually beat Stanford in a lot of statistical categories. We outhit them percentage-wise. We outblocked them and we sided out at a higher percentage. Usually when you side out at a higher percentage, you almost always win. Statistically, I am not sure what else we could have done. [Stanford] just got a few more points when it counted, but it was a very even match and it was very close statistically. I am proud of my team to be able to do that against the No. 6 team in the country. We had them on the ropes. There is no question about it. But that’s why they are the No. 6 team in the country. They stayed strong and stayed steady and were able to pull it off.”
Junior outside hitter Morgan Odale posted a match-high 17 kills and just missed her 18th career double-double as she posted nine digs. Her double-figure-kill match was her eighth double-figure-kill performance this season and the 46th of her career.
Sophomore outside hitter Shelby Dalton posted a team-high .391 hitting percentage (minimum five attack attempts) while going for 11 kills on 23 swings with just a pair of errors. She also tied her career high with eight blocks. She previously recorded eight blocks at No. 15 Oregon on Sept. 24, 2011.
Sophomore outside hitter Chelsey Schofield registered 11 kills to go with eight digs. The Provo, Utah, native has 11 double-digit-kill outputs this year and 32 over her career.
Sophomore Alli Spurrier set new career highs with six kills and four blocks.
In her fifth-consecutive start, freshman Kendall Cygan distributed 22 assists to go with seven digs, while senior McKenzie Odale set up 20 Ute kills.
Junior middle blocker Erin Redd led the Ute defense at the net with a match-high nine blocks, the fourth time this season she has led or tied for the team lead in blocking.
In the back row of the Ute defense, junior libero Nikki Sim had 16 digs for her eight double-digit-dig effort of the year and 35th of her career. Sophomore Lea Adolph posted her third match of 10 or more digs this year with 13.
The opening set was tied twice before Utes inched out to a 5-3 lead, but Stanford forced the third tie at six points apiece. Stanford took a slight 8-7 edge before the Utes roared back with five-straight points to earn a 12-8 advantage. Utah led by as many as eight (19-11 and 21-12) and won the first set by the same margin, 25-17. The Utes never trailed and Morgan and Shelby had five kills each and the Utes outhit the Cardinal, .275 to .025, and earned a 6.5 to 1.0 edge in team blocking. The Utes took five of the first six points of the second frame before the Cardinal came back with a 5-1 spurt to take its first lead of the match at 9-8. The set would be tied four more times, the last time at 13, before the Utes outscored the Cardinal, 5-2, to grab an 18-15 edge. Stanford reeled off three-straight to tie the set for the sixth time. Spurrier registered four kills on six attempts for a .500 hitting percentage in the second frame.
Utah used another quick start in the third set to grab a 2-0 lead, but Stanford took four straight to assume a 4-2 edge. The Utes took three of the next four to tie the set for the second time at 5-5. Stanford inched out to a 9-6 edge, but Utah would come back to claim a 12-11. The set would then be tied three more times, the last time coming at 15-15 before Utah took three of the next four for an 18-16 edge. The Utes would maintain their two-point advantage until the 19-17 mark, where the Cardinal would launch a 6-2 spurt to claim a 23-21 lead, which would eventually lead to a 25-23 fourth-set win. Morgan Odale pounded six kills in the fourth frame alone, while digs were even at 14 apiece.
There were eight ties in the early portion of the fourth set, the last one coming at nine points apiece, before the Cardinal put together a 9-3 spurt for an 18-12 advantage. Stanford held a 21-16 lead, but Utah countered with three unanswered scores to pull within a pair to get to a 21-19 margin. The Utes then trailed 24-21 when they put together a furious 4-0 rally to even the set for the ninth time.
“One of the things we have been talking about for the last two days is that we just have to work hard,” Launiere said. “And that is what we talked about [during a timeout], to just keep working hard and let no ball hit the floor defensively. We just made things happen because we worked hard on that and that was the key. We just had a different mentality and attitude all night and everybody bought in to work hard and see what we can come up with.”
Unfortunately, Stanford was able to hang on and secure the match victory with a 27-25 win in the fourth frame.
No. 6 Stanford (10-2, 2-0 Pac-12) was led by a double-double performance by Jordan Burgess, who posted a team-high 17 digs and 16 kills.
“[After the match] we talk about how we can’t control the outcome,” Launiere said. “We can’t control what Stanford does. We just know that we put everything out there tonight. We did everything we could and Stanford was just a few points better than us.”
The Utes’ next match will be against No. 8 Oregon on Friday in Eugene. First serve from Matthew Knight Arena. The match will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.