Utah Drops Heartbreaker to UNLV, 3-2, at MWC Championship

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LAS VEGAS - The Utah women's volleyball team dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker in the MWC Championship title match, 3-2, to UNLV.

Five players were in double figures in kills. Lori Baird, Kathryn Haynie and Whitney Webb each tallied 18 kills, while Kate Robison recorded 17 kills with 14 digs. Haynie also had two aces while Karolina Bartkowiak had 12 kills. Connie Dangerfield led the Utes with 31 digs. Stephanie Shardlow came away with 34 assists and 17 digs.

Baird, Haynie, Dangerfield and Robison were each named to the all-tournament team.

Although the match was close throughout, UNLV came up with several key plays at the end of the final game to take the win. With the Rebels up one, 12-11, Lauren Miramontes scored a kill and assisted on a block with Melody Nua to put UNLV at match point, 14-11. Although Bartkowiak held off the Rebels with a kill, Miramontes put the game away a minute later on a kill for the 15-12 win.

"I can't be more proud of this group," head coach Beth Launiere said. "I can't begin to tell you how hard they fought. The team kept getting better all season and they were so determined. We laid it on the line tonight and I'm so proud of them.

"This has been a great run. Our kids just kept battling. They played for each other as a team."

With the score tied, 6-6, in game one, Utah reeled off eight-straight points to take a 14-6 lead. Haynie had three kills in the drive for Utah. UNLV would rally back to come within two, 25-23, but the Utes ended the match on a 6-1 run to take the 30-24 victory. Baird recorded two kills during the winning run.

The second game was closely contested throughout, including 19 ties and 10 lead changes, as the game was decided in the final points, with the Rebels winning, 33-31.

The Utes struggled in game three. With the match tied 8-8, UNLV went on a 9-1 swing to take a 17-9 lead. Although Utah rallied at the end of the game, scoring several points in a row with the Rebels at match point, UNLV took the 30-17 win.

Utah took the momentum from game three into the fourth game. Although the Utes took an early five-point lead, the Rebels came back to tie the match, 18-18. From there, Utah rallied to go on a 10-1 run, en-route to a 30-21 win. Haynie recorded three kills in the game-deciding drive to set up game five.

Keisha Fisher had 34 assists and 10 digs for the Utes. Chelsey Sandberg led the team with nine blocks. Miramontes, who was named MVP of the Championship, had 30 kills for the Rebels. Jada Walker had 28 digs. Nua came away with 64 assists. Jessica Walters tallied 15 kills on the night.

Utah ends its season with a 15-15 record.

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