Utah volleyball All-American Dani Drews to return for normal fall season

Drews will take advantage of COVID-related eligibility freeze, allowing her to play a fifth season for the Utes

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah's Dani Barton jumps as she celebrates the winning match point to give Utah the win over Purdue. Utah beat Purdue three sets to one in the second round of the NCAA volleyball tournament, Friday, December 1, 2017.

Dani Drews is signing on for one more season with the University of Utah volleyball team.

The athletic department on Friday morning announced that Drews, an All-American senior outside hitter, has decided to return to play this fall. With the NCAA freezing the eligibility clock last fall for student-athletes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, all seniors had the option to return for one more season.

Before the Utes played an unprecedented spring season after the normal fall 2020 campaign was canceled, longtime Utes head coach Beth Launiere told The Salt Lake Tribune that she expected Drews to return this fall for a fifth and final season.

“I had a meeting with Coach Beth [Launiere] and in my mind it just clicked that it doesn’t make sense not to take advantage of this huge opportunity,” Drews said in a statement. “I think college only lasts so long, and I kept thinking that having an extra season is something most athletes would kill for. I truly love this team and have so much fun competing and working hard with them. I want to be here now and have one last really good season.”

The Utes went 13-5 this spring, advancing back to the NCAA Tournament as Drews was named Pac-12 and Pacific South Region Player of the Year, while earning AVCA All-American first-team honors.

“We’re very happy that Dani has chosen to return for her senior season,” Launiere said. “She is a special player and even more of a special person. Dani is a committed, loyal team player who wants to finish her career with her teammates, and in the Utah program that she has been such an integral part of for the last four years.”

At the time Launiere said she expected Drews back this fall, she also indicated her other senior All-American outside hitter, Kenzie Koerber, was likely to return. Koerber announced her transfer to BYU on April 22.