Before the volleyball season began, Utah and head coach Beth Launiere set two goals for themselves that were simple and complex at the same time: The Utes wanted to be competitive in the Pac-12, and they wanted to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, when they made the Sweet 16.
Nine conference wins accomplished the first goal. Sunday’s at-large berth into the Big Dance emphatically accomplished the second. Utah saw its name pop up on ESPNU’s selection show and the program erupted in celebration. The Utes will travel to Penn State, where they will face off against Yale on Friday night.
And now that they are there, they aren’t satisfied. They want more.
"For sure we want more," outside hitter Bailey Bateman said. "We’ve worked so hard to get to this point that we want to stay around as long as possible. We know that just because we’re here, it’s not enough just to be here. So we have to start watching tape of Yale right now, and we have to be prepared because we know that they have a really good team."
Utah enters the tournament with 20 wins, winning its first 11 of the season. The Utes have been to the NCAA Tournament 11 times and have a 10-10 record in those appearances.
If Utah defeats Yale, it will face the Penn State-LIU winner on Saturday night.
"There’s not a better feeling than seeing your team’s name come up on the bracket," Launiere said. "There is a lot of hard work. It wasn’t a small task."
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