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U. volleyball team tops CSU, advances to finals

LAS VEGAS — The No. 3-seeded University of Utah volleyball team (21-8 overall) swept its way into the Mountain West Conference tournament finals, beating Colorado State 3-0 on Friday. It was Utah's first win over CSU in three tries this season. Game scores were 30-26, 30-23 and 31-29. Colorado State, the No. 2 seed, falls to 20-7 for the year.

"I thought we were ready to play tonight," head coach Beth Launiere said. "We talked about coming out tonight and being on the offensive. The last two times we played CSU, we weren't that offensive. I think we all prepared well as individuals, have a lot of trust in ourselves right now and are playing well as a team because of it."

The Utes make it to the tournament finals for the fifth straight year and are eyeing their third tournament title, to complement their 2001 and 2002 hardware.

The Utes will play the winner of the No. 1 Brigham Young/No. 4 UNLV match at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The Utes swept Wyoming in the quarterfinals, 3-0, on Thursday.

Utah out-hit the Rams, .226-.205, and was led by the 13-kill effort of Shelly Sommerfeldt and the 11-kill outing of Airial Salvo. Emillie Toone led all players with .636 hitting percentage. She had eight kills on the night.

Defensively, Utah held the 15-8 edge at the net, and Toone's 10 total blocks led all players.

"Shelly was big for us," Launiere said. "We also knew we needed more offense out of Emillie tonight, and we got it. When Lori (Baird) sprained her ankle, Amie (Tingey) came in, got four blocks and played well for us. But, we really needed Shelly to step it up tonight and she did."