BYU and Utah Set For Deseret First Duel

Kayla Walker posted her third double-double of the season last weekend.

PROVO -- The Deseret First Duel Rivalry Series heats up this week as the BYU women’s volleyball team (9-7, 2-5 MWC) hosts the University of Utah (13-4, 5-2 MWC) on Friday in the first volleyball contest of the series. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be shown live on BYU-TV.

“The rivalry between the schools is deep and fun – it will certainly bring out the best in both teams,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We look forward to hosting Utah on our court with our fans in the Fieldhouse.”

The 2007-08 season marked the first year of the Deseret First Duel Rivalry Series presented by Deseret First Credit Union. BYU took home the inaugural title with a 34-30 edge in the point tally. The Cougar women’s volleyball team contributed six points by sweeping the season series with the Utes for the first time since 1999 with a 3-2 win in Salt Lake City on Oct. 12 and a 3-0 blanking of the Utes on Nov. 9 in Provo to bring home the sport trophy and contribute six points to the overall point tally. The win at Utah was the program’s first victory on Crimson Court since 2000 as senior All-American Chelsea Goodman recorded her only career triple-double with 21 kills, 11 digs and 12 blocks. Less than one month later, the Cougars posted their first sweep of the Utes since 2001 to secure the title. Goodman once again led the way with 17 kills in the match.

This week’s match will be highly charged as the Cougars look to snap a four-match losing streak while the Utes try to make it seven straight wins over the last four weeks. BYU dropped two matches last weekend with losses against San Diego State (20-25, 25-27, 25-19, 25-27) and UNLV (15-25, 11-25, 26-28) in the Smith Fieldhouse. Junior outside hitter Kayla Walker had a solid weekend for the Cougars as she was second on the team in kills (2.86) and digs (2.71) while coming in third in blocks (1.14) per set. Against San Diego State on Thursday, the Pepperdine transfer posted the first double-double by a Cougar since Sept. 13 and her third of the year with 13 kills and 14 digs.

Junior middle blocker Ashton Hansen Hosford has also contributed for the Cougars this season as she ranks 17th nationally in blocks per set with 1.36, helping BYU rank 14th in the country in that category at 2.74.

Utah dropped its first two league matches at Colorado State and Wyoming but has since won six straight contests. Senior middle blocker Lori Baird leads four Utes averaging over two kills per set as she tallied 3.00 kps while adding 1.34 blocks per set, fifth in the league and 19th nationally. Fellow senior middle blocker Emillie Toone ranks 14th nationally in both blocks (1.38) and hitting percentage (.415), which also leads the league. The pair combine to help the Utes rank third in the country in blocks at 2.96 per set. BYU owns a 64-21 all-time series lead against Utah.

In addition to live coverage on BYU-TV, live stats of Friday’s match will also be available via GameTracker. The link can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.

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