Utah volleyball player Brianna Doehrmann expected to experience a lot more Senior Day emotion, concluding her Huntsman Center career.
Her absence of pre-match tears surprised her, yet she also understood why Wednesday's sweep of Oregon State didn't feel like an ending. The No. 17 Utes hope they'll return to their home court for NCAA Tournament matches next week, and they believe they can keep playing for a long time.
“Honestly, I was expecting myself to cry, but I think I've prepared myself to go so much further this year,” the Ute libero said after a 25-16, 25-22, 25-18 victory over Oregon State.
The Utes have come a long way since being unranked to start the season. “We've proven that we have a lot to offer,” Doehrmann said. “We're still in the process of getting better.”
Utah is 21-9 overall and 13-6 in the Pac-12, good for third place entering Saturday’s regular-season finale at Colorado. The Utes are 16th in the RPI, a formula that likely will have a lot to say about NCAA Tournament seedings Sunday night — when 16 teams will be awarded host berths.
Other matches around the country this weekend could affect the Utes, but coach Beth Launiere is avoiding the math. “Too many variables for me to spend any time on it,” she said. “All I know is we have to win.”
That also was true against last-place Oregon State (9-21, 3-16). The Utes started a bit slowly after the Senior Day ceremony. Even so, middle blocker Berkeley Oblad, who appeared to be the most emotional of the three seniors, proceeded to play “a monster match,” by Launiere’s description. Oblad posted 16 kills with no hitting errors.
Ute junior Dani Drews added 12 kills on an afternoon when senior Kinga Windisch got to play a lot and so did several younger teammates, after the Utes took a big lead in the third set. OSU made things mildly interesting after trailing 22-10, but the Utes regained control after the Beavers had scored seven straight points.
“I really wanted to get people in,” Launiere said of her substitutions. “They work so hard every day … and it’s a long season.”
The Utes just hope it lasts a lot longer.