Dec. 5, 2008
CLEMSON – The Utah Utes (25-5) traveled roughly 2,400 miles to play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Their traveling paid off as they defeated Furman (21-14) in three sets Friday night in Jervey Gym.
Utah advances to the second round of the tournament at 7:00 p.m. in Jervey Gym and will face host-Clemson.
“It’s always great to win an NCAA match,” said Utah Head Coach Beth Launiere. “I don’t think you could ever take that for granted. I thought Furman played very well. They are a good team. They play hard and play great defense. Furman held us under our average in the first two games, but we were able to break loose in game three. They had a great gameplan to go up against our big block. Overall, I was very impressed with Furman. I felt our team responded very well to a good defensive team that was taking our best shots for a while in the match. But we were able to respond. We did a good job of getting our offense going and blocking balls, which we did a lot of.”
In the first set, Utah solidly defeated Furman 25-17. With the score tied at two, the Utes went on a 4-0 run with kills from Lori Baird and Emillie Toone. Furman freshman Kelly Kirby responded with a kill to put the Paladins within three points. Yet, Furman could not stop the runs from Utah. Already leading 17-11, the Utes went on a 3-0 run with kills coming from Kathryn Haynie and Cinthia Silva to lead 20-11. After a timeout, the Paladins went on a 3-0 run. Yet, the deficit was too much as the Utes went on a 3-0 run late in the set to lead 24-16. Baird then had a decisive kill to end the set. Haynie led Utah with three kills as multiple others had two.
The second set was close throughout. However, the Utes were able to pull it out in the end to win their second straight set 26-24. Due to an attack error from Utah, the Paladins got on the scoreboard first. But, Baird had a kill to even the score. Kirby responded with a kill as Furman took a 2-1 lead. Utah went on a 3-0 run to take the lead. During the set there were 14 ties and seven lead changes. Late in the set with the score tied at 24, Utah had back-to-back kills from Toone and Silva to put an end to the hard fought set. Utah had 15 kills in the set with four coming from both Sandberg and Haynie.
Karolina Bartkowiak led her team to victory in the third set with an impressive five kills. Utah won 25-17. The set was a must-win for the Paladins and it showed early on as they went on a 3-0 run to lead 6-3. Yet, Furman’s defense could not handle the pressure from the Utes. After back-to-back kills from Bartkowiak, Haynie had a serving ace. In the next play Barkowiak and Toone blocked an attack from Furman. Thus, the 4-0 run put the Utes back in the set as they led 9-8. Down 14-12, the Utes revamped their offense and went on a 3-0 run to take the lead once again. Then, the Utes went on a 5-0 run to close the set out.
“One thing this team has done all season is respond,” said Coach Launiere. “They were a little frustrated with the way we started game three. But Chelsey Sandberg and Karolina Bartkowiak took off in game three. I don’t know how many kills they had but that was the difference. We’ve responded all year. I tell my team I’m going to yell at them just to start the match because they really respond when I get a little frustrated with them. So, I’m just going to start that way for now on. I’m just kidding…I love them.”
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