VOLLEYBALL: After what turned out to be a busy offseason for the Utes' volleyball program, they enter the 35th season in the program's history just nine wins away from giving 20th-year head coach Beth Launiere 400 victories in her career. Reigning MWC champion and NCAA Regional semifinalist Utah enters this season with a preseason No. 17 AVCA ranking.
The Utes begin their season with a trio of matches in the Utah Classic this weekend at Crimson Court. In the season-opener for both teams, Utah hosts Arizona State on Friday at 7 p.m. The Utes conclude their home tournament with a pair of matches Saturday, beginning with UC-Riverside at 10 a.m., followed by Cincinnati at 7 p.m.
In other Utah Classic action, Cincinnati faces UC-Riverside Friday at 5 p.m.. The Bearcats take on the Sun Devils on Saturday at noon, then ASU plays UC-Riverside at 5 p.m.
Utah was ranked 17th in the 2009 AVCA Coaches Top-25 Preseason Poll. The Utes have five matches against teams ranked in the top 25 during the regular season, beginning Sept. 12 at No. 25 Santa Clara. Utah hosts No. 14 Oregon on Sept. 15 and travels to No. 23 Long Beach State for a Nov. 28 match. Colorado State was the other Mountain West Conference team to be ranked in the top 25, as the Rams were ranked 25th.
Utah was selected to repeat as MWC champions in the 2009 Preseason Coaches Poll voted on by a panel including the conference's nine head coaches and selected media. In addition, junior opposite hitter and co-captain Karolina Bartkowiak (Aurora, Ill./Wroclaw, Poland) was named to the Preseason All-MWC Team.
As the fifth coach in school history, Launiere has compiled a 391-212 (.648) mark in 19 seasons at Utah, the only school in which she has been head coach. After taking over in 1990, the three-time AVCA West Region and MWC Coach of the Year has 63 percent of the program's victories over the first 34 seasons.