Last home game for Utah Tech women’s volleyball ends in Senior Night loss

From left, #23 Kennedi Knudsen, a sophomore exercise science major from Gunnison, and #2 Taylor Snow, a sophomore criminal justice major from Salem, are going up for the block. The women’s volleyball team’s last home game was Nov. 2, and they lost to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who won 3 sets. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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The last home game for Utah Tech women’s volleyball ended in a loss against the No. 3 ranked team in the Western Athletic Conference.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley University won three out of the four sets.

Utah Tech opened the game with a tribute to all the seniors on the team for Senior Night. The crowd cheered for the seniors as they stepped foot on the court for what would be their last time playing at home as a Trailblazer.

The 2023-2024 seniors celebrated include:

Kate Hardy, a senior dental hygiene major from Fruitland, Idaho, said she enjoyed every minute of being at Utah Tech, and she wants her teammates to remember her as a player who always fought hard and never gave up. 

“I loved tonight’s game and being with the team because it’s my last time in the Burns Arena, and it will be a good memory,” Hardy said.

Head coach Camilla Hafoka said she is going to miss these seniors once they are gone, but they aren’t leaving the program with nothing. Hafoka said any success the program has in the future started right here with these seniors.

“Individually, all of them have done so many things for our program, especially in making that Division l transition,” Hafoka said. “The change in the culture and even where our team is right now culturally, we are moving forward, and that’s all built from Kate, Taela and Emma.”

Taela Laufiso, a fifth-year senior communication studies major from West Jordan, talked about some of the team’s goals along with some of her own for the season. Laufiso said she was working on being a selfless leader throughout the season.

Overlook of the game

Hafoka knew UTRGV was a good team, and it was going to be a tough game for them to win. Utah Tech’s game plan going into the game was to knock the Vaqueros off their game to have a shot at winning. 

The first set was a battle of the two teams. One minute Utah Tech was winning, and the next, UTRGV was. With six different lead changes and 13 tied scores, the Vaqueros took the first set 25-21.

The Trailblazers took control of the second set and won 25-22. However, UTRGV didn’t take it lightly as they dominated the third set 25-13.

Going into the fourth set, Utah Tech was down 2-1 and needed to win the set. Despite being persistent and having the crowd on their side, the Trailblazers couldn’t stop UTRGV from their aggressive attacks. Ultimately, the team lost the set 25-20 and lost the game. 

“Right now, we are on track to make it to the WAC Tournament, but these last few games are going to determine our outcome,” Laufiso said. “If we can compete, then we’ll be able to accomplish our goal, so that’s going to come down to the last game that we play this season.”

For Utah Tech to make it to the WAC tournament, they will need to finish off the rest of the season strong. Winning the last of their games will help secure a spot for the Trailblazers at the 2023 WAC tournament.

Utah Tech women’s upcoming volleyball games include:

The WAC tournament will be played Nov. 16 through Nov. 18 at the Lockhart Arena in Orem.