Oct 142004
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

The No. 18 Utah Utes will bring their war cry to Moby Arena

tonight as they face the No. 7 CSU women’s volleyball team.

The BYU Cougars will also be on the prowl for a conference win

against the Rams when they visit Moby on Saturday night. Both games

will start at 7 p.m.

Both the Utes (13-2, 5-0) and the Rams (13-1, 5-0) are looking

to defend perfect conference records. The Rams lead the series

history 39-17 and are 19-1 in Moby, with the lone loss coming in

1979. The Rams last lost a match on the road against Utah in

2001.

The Utes are looking to prove themselves worthy of the Mountain

West conference crown, and following the Rams’ win over Wyoming

Friday, CSU expressed a desire to keep the Utes on the outside

looking in.

“Everyone knows it’s going to be a huge match,” said junior

outside hitter Tess Rogers. “I definitely take it personally. It’s

really important because we are leading the conference.”

Junior right side hitter Dre Downs, who hails from Clinton,

Utah, is looking forward to the game.

“I know half the team,” Downs said. “It’s fun to see how we’ve

improved.”

The Utes have won 10 straight while the Rams have a streak of 13

going. As a team, the Utes are hitting .228 to the Rams’ .303

hitting. The Rams have the edge on Utah in hitting, assists and

kills per game while the Utes have slightly higher averages in

service aces (1.78 to 1.60), blocking (3.28 to 2.94) and digs

(14.66 to 14.06).

Senior middle blocker Lyndsey Henderson is the only Ute hitting

over .300 with a .330 average and 3.49 kills per game. Senior

setter Tracy Neumeier is averaging 6.10 assists and sophomore

libero Connie Dangerfield leads the team with 4.00 digs per

game.

“They all could hurt us,” Downs said. “They are a well-rounded

team.”

The Rams offense versus the block-heavy Utes will play a big

roll in the game. CSU will have to play the game without senior

outside hitter Becky Sarauer, who is hindered by a sprained ankle.

Senior middle blocker Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon leads the team with a

.294 hitting percentage and four Rams are averaging more than three

kills per game.

“For our outsides, their blocking is huge,” Rogers said. “We

have to set up our transitions.”

The Rams are not afraid of playing a good blocking team,

however.

“These games are what you’ll remember in your career,” Rogers

said. “And they make you better.”

In past matches, the difference has been in the final points of

the match, when fatigue can set in.

“We were better at the end of games,” Rogers said.

With emotions and energy running high, the Rams said they like

to play Utah because they are a tough team.

“It’s a lot of heat and it’s a lot of fun,” Downs said. “That’s

just how it is. The conference battle.”

But don’t expect the rankings or past championships to affect

the outcome. As far as the players are concerned, all that has come

before will be dismissed.

“I think tomorrow night when we play, we won’t think about it,”

Downs said. “Because that’s in the past and we have to prove

ourselves.”

BYU will come to town Saturday and boasts this week’s MWC Player

of the Week, sophomore middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock, who leads

the team in hitting (.446) and blocks per game (1.81). Junior

outside hitter Kim Wilson leads the team with 3.57 kills per game

and junior setter Lauren Richards has .61 service aces and 12.10

assists per game.

As a team, the Cougars are hitting .283 with 15.62 kills, 1.79

aces and 3.30 blocks per game.

CSU will be focusing on the Utes first, but BYU will not be a

team to disregard.

“We have to play with the magic of Moby,” Downs said.

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