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Utes bounce back, handle Weber State

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The Utah volleyball team had plenty of motivation on its side Saturday night.

Not only were the Utes playing in-state rival Weber State, which had knocked them off a year ago, but they couldn't wait to erase the fresh memory of Friday night's debacle — a four-game loss to an average Nevada team.

This time the Utes came out of the gate fast, had a lapse in the second game but finished strong to defeat the Wildcats in four games, 30-15, 26-30, 30-21, 30-16.

"This team knew they needed to respond after what happened last night," said Ute coach Beth Launiere. "We had a good practice and good film session, and they were much more focused. They still didn't play their best volleyball, but that's OK. We played a lot better tonight."

The Utes, who improved to 6-4, had their usual good games from Kim Turner and Shelly Sommerfeldt, who both had .333 hitting percentages with 13 and 17 kills, respectively. But sophomore Danielle Leichliter had an outstanding game, with 17 kills and a phenomenal .536 hitting percentage.

"Wow, that's really good," said Launiere as she perused Leichliter's stats. "We really needed that. She didn't even practice most of the week, because her Achilles has been bothering her, but tonight she decided to go for it."

After cruising to an easy win in Game 1, the Utes reverted back to their Friday night form and never led in Game 2. But they caught fire midway through the third game and easily won Game 4.

One of the sidelights of the match was the matchup between the Kartchner sisters, who both played setter for their respective teams.

Kelsie Kartchner is a junior for Utah, while Jamie is a freshman for the Wildcats.

Both played well, but Kelsie got bragging rights for the night, getting the victory along with slightly better stats — 44 sets to 35 for her younger sister, and seven kills to one.

"It was fun," said Kelsie. "It was good to see her because I don't get to see her very much."

The sisters just said "Hi" before the game, and there was no trash-talking. Afterward, the two were able to socialize with their family.

Next up for the Utes is Utah State in Logan Tuesday, followed by Mountain West Conference play, which begins next weekend when Wyoming (Friday) and Colorado State (Saturday) come to town.

"I'm still not 100-percent pleased," said Launiere. "We're still all over the place. But it was better than last night."

E-mail: sor@desnews.com