No. 6 Stanford powers past Utah
Call it one to grow on.
Friday night, the Utah women's volleyball team, underdog to No. 6-ranked Stanford, played its finest match so far this season. At times, the Cardinal struggled.
At the end of an entertaining match, Stanford (10-2, 2-0 Pac-12) prevailed, defeating the Utes 17-25, 25-22, 25-23 and 27-25 in a rocking Huntsman Center where more than 1,500 spectators made up for their small numbers with great volume.
And when Utah (9-6, 0-2) took the first game, just the fourth game dropped by the Cardinal in their last eight matches, there were upset dreams.
"You couldn't ask for a better collegiate volleyball match atmosphere," Utah coach Beth Launiere said.
The fourth and final game summed up the Utes' effort. Down 18-12, they rallied for a chance at set point. However, the final points also illustrated why Stanford is all about quality, absorbing Utah's best punch to gut out the victory.
"When we played them here last year, I thought, 'This [Utah] team is so young, they're really going to be good next year,' and that's the way I expect them to play all the time," Stanford coach John Dunning said.
"Sometimes when someone is playing free, you can't get anything going against them."
That changed once Stanford rallied back to capture the second game. From that moment and each succeeding game, the Cardinal, with their towering front line, made Utah work harder for each point.
The Utes, however, didn't wilt as they outblocked the Cardinal, 30-20. Shelby Dalton, who finished with 11 kills, and Erin Redd combined for 17 blocks. Dalton also had a .391 hitting percentage. Morgan Odale added 17 kills.
Stanford, which also put a young team on the floor three starting freshmen was led by Jordan Burgess with 16 kills.
Carly Wopat and Inky Ajamaku had 11 each.
"Our team came to play and when we do that, I think we can be a pretty good volleyball team," Launiere said. "They took some things away, but we took some things away from them, too."
Just not enough.
No. 6 Stanford 3, Utah 1
R Utah outhits No. 6 ranked Stanford, .196 to .192, and outblocks the Cardinal, 30-20.
• After dropping only its fourth game in eight matches, Stanford rallies to win the next three.
• Utah women play volleyball in the Huntsman Center for the first time since 1993.