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College volleyball: BYU snaps Utah’s 10-match winning streak

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU players celebrate a point during volleyball match at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah Tuesday Sept. 17, 2013.

By Steve Luhm

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Sep 17 2013 10:42PM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:34PM

BYU volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead thought the Cougars had a chance to end Utah’s 10-match winning streak Tuesday night at the Huntsman Center.

That’s exactly what happened.

BYU needed five sets, but the Cougars handed the Utes their first loss of the season, 25-23, 17-25, 25-14, 20-25, 15-12. They took the decisive fifth set by scoring the final two points after Utah had rallied from a 13-9 deficit.

"That’s really a nice win for us," said Olmstead, whose team improved to 7-3 with its third straight victory. "It showed in the scores we’re pretty evenly matched. ...

"It was just up-and-down. I thought that was going to be the case. I told the girls that. I just felt we stayed composed there at the end of the match and that helped us."

Utah, forced to go the limit for only the second time this season, led once in the fifth set. It was 6-5 before the Cougars scored five of the next six points.

"It was just a battle all night," said Utah coach Beth Launiere. "It was a match of runs. It started off as an offensive battle. The hitting percentages were really high and then it turned into a defensive battle. ... We were just a couple of plays short."

After 10 lead changes, BYU took the first set, 25-23.

The Cougars jumped to a 6-3 lead before Utah rallied behind the play of senior middle blockers Erin Redd-Brandon and Bailey Bateman.

The Utes built a 19-17 lead and appeared on their way to a victory, but BYU rallied and scored the final three points.

The clincher came when the Utes could not block a blast by BYU outside hitter Tambre Haddock.

Utah regrouped in the second set and prevailed, 25-17, before BYU bounced back in the third set and won, 25-14.

The back-and-forth nature of the match continued in the fourth set, when Utah won, 25-20.

The Utes took a 2-0 lead and never trailed behind the play of outside hitter Chelsey Schofield. Her thunderous cross-court kill made it 4-1 and, later, her block gave Utah a 12-2 advantage. BYU got as close as 24-20 before Schofield’s kill ended the comeback.

Still, Olmstead thought the Cougars’ rally put them in the right frame of mind for the fifth set.

"I wasn’t going to be unrealistic and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back and win this [fourth] set — rah, rah,’" he said. "We were down and you don’t do that against a good team. But what I did say was we are either going to win this set or get the momentum for the next one and I thought that’s what we did."

Launiere agreed.

"This game is more about momentum than any other sport I’ve watched," she said.

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