CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State volleyball team knocked off No. 12 Utah in a four-set thriller Friday night before 1,142 fans at Gill Coliseum. With the victory, the Beavers, who have won five straight conference matches for the first time since 1990, are now postseason eligible with 16 wins.
Set scores were 16-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-20. With the win OSU moves to 16-7 overall and 6-5 in the Pac-12 Conference. Utah falls to 17-5 and 8-3.
"We were not good in that first set," head coach Mark Barnard said. "Our passing was poor and we couldn't get into our offense, which really helped Utah. But once we settled in the second set and picked up our serve-receive game we were able to get into an offensive rhythm."
With solid passing in the second set came a varied offense as middle blockers Kory Cheshire and Maddy Gravley put away four and three kills respectively while Haylie Bennett and Maddie Goings added another four and three. Near the midway point in the second stanza, OSU's defense came to life when Cheshire was involved in blocks on three straight plays to force the Utes into a timeout with the Beavers up 13-11. The block party continued after the timeout as Mary-Kate Marshall stuffed Utah's Kenzie Koerber on the next point. OSU pulled away to take the set 25-16 and evened the match going into intermission.
"When Kory got on the roll with her blocks it really fed our confidence," Barnard said. "We dug well tonight as well and made it very difficult to put the ball on the floor. When we dig well and pass well is when we are our best."
Oregon State took control of the third set near the mid-point. Cheshire retained serve for six straight points as the Beaver defense continued to make things difficult on the Utes forcing them into errors. Goings continued to heat up with five kills in the set, while Marshall kicked in five more and the Beavers took the set 25-20.
The Beavers held the early advantage in the fourth set leading 7-3, but the Utes worked their way back and held a three-point lead at 17-14. However, Gravley and Bennett combined on a block to make it 17-15 and the momentum began to swing. A pair of kills by Goings and yet another block by Bennett and Cheshire tied the score at 18 and forced a Utah timeout. Play remained close to a 20-20 tie before Oregon State tallied the final five points to secure the win.
Marshall finished the night with a match-high 19 kills, including eight in the final set, and added a pair of aces and four blocks. On the defensive side, Grace Massey tallied 21 digs and Cheshire and Bennett tied for the team-lead with five blocks each.