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TCU trips up Utah in 5 sets

The University of Utah volleyball team was well on its way to what looked like a second straight 3-0 Mountain West Conference victory Saturday night on Crimson Court when suddenly TCU, a team that had just lost four straight and been shut out at BYU Friday night, came to life.

Utah coach Beth Launiere had several of her second-line players in the third game, and Utah was leading 23-19 when the roof started caving in. TCU tied it at 23, then started pulling ahead. Launiere put her starters back in, but the Horned Frogs had momentum on their side the rest of the night in a five-game victory.

The Utes (7-9 overall, 4-3 MWC) lost in five games, 30-21, 30-26, 26-30, 23-30, 13-15 to the 16-6, 3-3 Frogs.

Utah's next match is Friday night at 7 on Crimson Court with MWC leader BYU.

"The match just got away from us in terms of momentum," Launiere said. "They started coming at us aggressively, and we just weren't able to respond and turn it around."

She wouldn't have changed her substitution pattern.

"I won't blame them. It wasn't them. It was everybody," Launiere said. "We're up 2-0 and we're doing well in Game 3, and I need to be able to sub."

The loss put a damper on a weekend that was off to a nice start on Friday with a 3-0 win over New Mexico, in which the Utes just clamped off every attempt the Lobos made to get rallies going.

Saturday, the Utes went the other way when the opponent rose up.

"They would get an in-system pass and set any one of hitters, and we were kind of step behind, not seeing the ball as well as we should have," said Ute outside hitter Whitney Webb, who had 19 kills, many of them fairly vicious looking, with .424 efficiency.

"It was mostly our energy on our side. We kind of took a step back and were put on our heels because they were putting on a push and, because we were a step behind, we couldn't push back as well."

"Whitney was playing great, so we fed her the ball," said Launiere, who didn't think Webb could have been set any more.

Webb credited her strong hitting to work she'd done with her setters, freshmen Stepahnie Shardlow and Keisha Fisher, before the match, having them learn to set her a little lower than they had been. That made all the difference to her, Webb said.

In other volleyball matches Saturday:

UTAH STATE 3, LOUISIANA TECH 0: Amanda Nielson recorded a match-high 14 kills to lead the Utah State women's volleyball team to a three-game win (30-19, 30-27, 31-29) against Louisiana Tech here Saturday night. USU improved to 9-8 on the season and 6-2 in the Western Athletic Conference with the win, while LTU fell to 6-15 overall and 1-7 in league play with the loss.

Nielson, a senior outside hitter from West Valley City, added nine digs and two blocks in the match for Utah State, while sophomore middle blocker Danielle Taylor (Springville) had eight kills and three blocks and hit a blistering .438 (8-1-16).

NORTHERN ARIZONA 3, WEBER STATE 0: The Weber State volleyball team was swept 3-0 by Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Lumberjacks pulled out a 30-19, 30-21, 33-31 win over the Wildcats, dropping Weber State to 3-3 in Big Sky Conference action.