As the ninth Pac-12 team to do so, Utah adds beach volleyball as a new intercollegiate sport beginning in the spring of 2017. The squad will operate as a joint program under director of volleyball and indoor head coach Beth Launiere.
Launiere took over the Utes in 1990, building the program from the ground up into a top-25 powerhouse team. In 2015, she became the 33rd NCAA Division 1 coach to record 500 wins.
The team will largely consist of members of the 2016 indoor team, with the season beginning in March and ending in May. Utah will play 10 regular-season matches, all on the road.
Returning players that will help to build the beach program consist of junior outside hitter Adora Anae. Anae was named first-team All-Pac-12 in 2015, as she became the first Ute to post more than 500 kills (501) and 350 digs (388) in a single season.
Also joining Anae on the beach will be Eliza Katoa and Carly Trueman, who ranked second and third, respectively, in kills for the Utes last season. Also expected to play and make an impact is freshman Torre Glasker.
Defensively, Berkley Oblad sets to take the court after posting 95 blocks last season, also earning Pac-12 Freshman Team honors.
Sophomore setter Jessie Openshaw led the Utes last season with 673 total assists in 2015.
The Season Begins
The Utes will take the beach for the first time at the Stanford Beach Tournament on March 10-11, followed by a match against San Francisco on March 12.
The regular-season will conclude on March 17-19 at the Hawaii Tournament, which will consists of five-matches, one versus powerhouse Nebraska.
The Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championships will take place in Tucson, Arizona at the end of April.