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Utah drops title match to Northwestern

By Mike Devine | Posted - Aug. 29, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY – Danielle Killpack, Erin Redd and Jennifer Lanting had eight blocks apiece, but the University of Utah volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to Northwestern, 19-25, 24-26, 24-26, Saturday night in the championship match of the 2011 Utah Classic.

“In the locker room after the match, we talked about what was the difference tonight,” Utah head coach Beth Launiere said. “It was just a lot of little things. We had too many errors at critical points, but we battled and it is just something we have to learn from and grow as a team. We want to be in these kinds of situations early on because that is what is going to make us better.”

Utah (2-1) held a 16.5-3 advantage in team blocks over Northwestern and held the Wildcats to a .163 clip.

“We outblocked them but we just gave up too many runs of points and were just a little too up and down, but there are a lot of pieces to work from so I am encouraged,” Launiere said. “We just have to keep getting better.”

Redd and fellow sophomore Morgan Odale represented the Utes on the 2011 Utah Classic All-Tournament team. Odale and Redd tied for team-high honors with nine kills apiece. Odale just missed her first double-double of the season after collecting 14 digs, while Redd established a season-high with eight blocks.

“Both Erin and Morgan were in a lot of pressure situations a year ago as freshmen,” Launiere said. “They’ve learned how to handle the pressure a little bit better. We have players in their first collegiate experiences and it takes time to gain the confidence in tough situations.”

Freshman Chelsey Schofield pitched in defensively with 12 digs and five blocks.

The Wildcats took the opening four points of the first set, but the Utes cut their deficit to a point at 5-4 before NU strung together four consecutive points to lead 9-5.

Utah came within two points on five occasions later in the set, but Northwestern extended its lead to four points, 23-19.

Four different Utes – Odale, Killpack, Redd and Lanting - had two kills apiece but Utah was outhit .263 to .129 in the opener. Odale added five digs defensively while Killpack had three blocks in the first set.

Northwestern jumped out to a 7-3 edge in the second set, but Utah trimmed its deficit to a point, 9-8, before a block by Lanting and Redd tied the set at nine and a kill by Schofield gave Utah its first lead of the set at 10-9.

The set was tied 10 more times with the last coming at 24-24, but Northwestern pulled away for the 26-24 second-set win for a 2-0 edge in the match.

Odale and Schofield had four kills apiece as the Utes outhit the Wildcats .205 to .149 in the set. Utah also held a 6.5 to 0 edge in team blocks over NU.

NU took five of the first seven points of the third set, but Utah came back to tie the set at six points with a 4-1 run. The set would be tied at 8-8 before the Utes strung together four consecutive scores to assume a 12-8 edge.

Utah maintained its four-point lead (20-16) until Northwestern closed within a point (23-22) after collecting four consecutive scores. The Wildcats tied the set at 24.

Northwestern (3-0) took home the Utah Classic crown and was led by 21 kills and 14 digs by the tournament’s most valuable player, Stephanie Holthus. All-tournament libero Julie Chin collected a match-high 24 digs and fellow all-tourney team member Madalyn Shalter added 14 digs.

“We have all the pieces to work with,” Launiere said. “This group hasn’t played together a lot so just learning about each other and understanding each other in pressure situations is going to be the difference.”

The Utes host Nova KBM from Maribor, Slovenia in an exhibition match Tuesday at Crimson Court. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Mike DeVine is the assistant athletic communications director for the University of Utah

Mike Devine


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