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Mitchell Northam | NCAA.com | September 19, 2019

No. 12 BYU vs. No. 18 Utah: Preview and how to watch the women's volleyball rivalry

Florida and Oklahoma headline this week's volleyball top plays

When in-state rivals BYU and Utah meet in any sport, it's a must-watch.

On Thursday night in Salt Lake City at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, a ranked Cougars team and a ranked Utes team will square off on the volleyball court.

STAYING PERFECT: The women's volleyball teams who could go undefeated

While the Utes have fared better in this rivalry in football, BYU has largely owned it in women's volleyball, having a 72-28 all-time record vs. Utah. The Cougars haven't lost in Salt Lake City since 2010 and swept both of their meetings with the Utes last season.

But Utah might be equipped to pull off an upset this time around and avenge last season's losses. The Utes bring a stout defense to this match-up, leading the nation in blocks per-set with a 3.36 mark. They're also armed with Dani Drews, one of the nation's leaders in kills, ranking 14th with 160 this season.

Utah started the season 8-0 before falling twice last weekend to No. 6 Pitt and unranked Cal Poly. The Utes have an impressive win on their resume over then-ranked No. 7 Kentucky. BYU has just two losses this season too, coming against ranked Texas and Marquette squads.

The match begins at 8 p.m. EST Thursday and will be televised and streamed by the Pac-12 Network.

POLL: The latest AVCA Coaches Poll rankings 

BYU   UTAH
12 AVCA Ranking 18
3-1 win over VCU Last Result 3-2 loss to Cal Poly
7-2 2019 Record 8-2
Heather Olmstead Head Coach Beth Launiere
McKenna Miller (116) Kills Leader Dani Drews (160)
Heather Gneiting (35) Blocks Leader Berkeley Oblad (52)
Whitney Bower (21) Aces Leader Dani Drews (11)
31-2 (lost in NCAA semifinals) 2018 Finish 19-14 (lost in NCAA second round)

SCOREBOARD: Results for every match

The last time BYU and Utah met 

BYU made the final 16 of the NCAA volleyball tournament last year by handily sweeping the Utes 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-18) in Provo. It marked the seventh straight time that the Cougars had advanced to at least the final 16 of the tournament and also extended a home match NCAA tournament winning streak to 19 games, a stretch that dates back to 1994.

Utah briefly led 11-10 in the first set and 2-0 in the third set, but BYU responded each time to take leads. Senior Roni Perry-Jones led the way for the Cougars in the match with 20 kills and seven digs. Lyndie Haddock-Eppich added 45 assists.

BYU went on to advance to the national semifinals, where it lost to eventual champion Stanford.

The last time Utah beat BYU was in 2016, taking a 3-2 regular season victory in Provo.

TOP-2 SHOWDOWN: No. 2 Stanford beats No. 1 Nebraska in rematch of 2018 national championship

BYU vs. Utah extras

  • This is the final non-conference game of the season for Utah.
  • Berkeley Oblad missed most of the 2018 season with an injury for Utah, but was an All-American honorable mention in 2017 after tallying 300 kills and 142 blocks.
  • Utah has three players who have previously earned All-American recognition, with Oblad, Drews and Kenzie Koerber.
  • The Cougars return four All-Americans from last season in Mary Lake, McKenna Miller, Kennedy Eschenberg and Heather Gneiting. It’s the highest number of All-Americans returning in program history for BYU.
  • Utah has held eight of their 10 opponents under a .200 hitting percentage this season.
  • BYU head coach Heather Olmstead was an assistant to Utah head coach Beth Launiere from 2006 to 2010.
  • With this week’s ranking, BYU has now been ranked 94 consecutive weeks, dating back to Oct. 7, 2013.
  • BYU freshman Whitney Bower is just 17 years old and the third-youngest starting setter in Division I after reclassifying and skipping her senior year of high school. Bower ranks 12th in the nation in aces this season and 60th in assists.
  • Over the last five seasons, BYU has the highest winning percentage of any team in Division I volleyball with a 148-18 mark.

HISTORY: Texas State's Karen Chisum joins 900-win club in volleyball

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