Utah will hit the sand courts for its second beach volleyball season in 2018.
Utah welcomes back All-Pac-12 Second Team and Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honoree Dani Barton, along with fellow returnees Berkeley Oblad, Adora Anae, Tawnee Luafalemana, Bailey Choy, Brianna Doehrmann and Lauren Sproule. Former Ute Brenda Whicker is in her first season as the head beach volleyball coach. Following tournaments in Honolulu, Long Beach and Tucson, the Pac-12 Championship takes place April 26-29 in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Utes advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the third time in school history in 2017 and earned their highest finish in the AVCA poll, coming in at No. 11.
Utah finished 24-10 for the program's fourth 20-win campaign in the last five years. The Utes also had their best season as a Pac-12 Conference member, finishing fourth with a 13-7 record.
Earning the No. 11 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament-the highest in school history-Utah won the Salt Lake City Sub-Regional by defeating Cleveland State and Purdue. The Utes fell in five sets to No. 2-ranked Texas in the Stanford Regional semifinals.
Senior outside hitter Adora Anae became Utah's first-ever first-team All-American and was named the AVCA All-Pacific South Region Player of the Year. A two-time All-American and three-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection during her illustrious career, Anae is the school's all-time leader in kills (1,920) and attempts (4,915) and ranks third in digs (1,319).
Senior Tawnee Luafalemana and junior Berkeley Oblad, both middle blockers, earned honorable mention All-America and first-team All-Pacific South Region honors by the AVCA. Luafalemana led the Utes with 152 total blocks and 22 solo blocks. She also had a team-high .368 hitting percentage, which ranks as the third-best mark in school history. Oblad ranked second on the team with 142 total blocks and a .318 hitting percentage. She heads into her senior year in 2018 with 711 kills, 164 digs and 323 total blocks.
Senior outside hitter Carly Trueman became the 18th Utah player to become a member of the 1,000-kill club and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention. Sophomore setter Bailey Choi became the eighth player in school history to become a member of the 2,000-assist club and the fifth player to net 1,000 assists in a season during the rally-scoring era.
A pair of freshmen outside hitters also made significant contributions. Dani Barton rounded out the team's top five in kills (1.48 kps) and hit .229. Kenzie Koerber ranked third on the team in blocks (0.82 bps) and was sixth in kills (1.28 kps).
With nearly 550 career victories to her name, Beth Launiere is in her 29th season at the helm of the Ute Volleyball program in 2018.
Launiere guided Utah to its third NCAA regional semifinals appearance in 2017 after earning a program-best No. 11 overall seed in the tournament. It was the Utes' 14th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and the fourth in the last five years. Utah finished 24-10 overall and had its best Pac-12 Conference season in seven years as a league member, finishing fourth with a 13-7 record. It was the second straight year the Utes recorded double-figure wins in Pac-12 play. Launiere has logged 17 seasons of 20 or more wins at the helm of the Utah program.
Seven Utes have earned All-Pac-12 accolades under Launiere and four have made the All-Freshman team. Adora Anae was a three-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and became Utah's first-ever first-team All-American in 2017. Launiere has guided 11 Utes to All-America honors while 14 have garnered all-region accolades.
Launiere's impact on the sport goes well beyond the court, as she served as the AVCA President during the 2009 calendar year. She has also been a member of the AVCA Board of Directors since 2004.
Launiere was named the AVCA West Region Coach of the Year three times (2001, '06, '08) and the MWC Coach of the Year on three occasions (2004, '06, '08). In 11 years as a Mountain West Conference member, Utah won three tournament championships (2001, '02, '05) and three regular-season titles (2004, '06, '08).
Malia Shoji is in her fourth season with Utah volleyball program. Shoji was elevated to associate head coach in February 2018 after serving three years as an assistant coach.
Shoji has helped lead the Utes to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including the regional semifinals in 2017. Following her first season at Utah, Shoji was named an assistant coach for the Pac-12 Volleyball All-Star Team that toured China in the summer of 2016.
She made the move to Salt Lake City after serving as an assistant women's coach at Western Oregon University from 2012-14.
Shoji was an assistant coach with Willamette University in 2011 and helped establish the Capital City Elite Volleyball Club, serving as the director of business operations. Shoji was the lead coach for the Gold Medal Squared Volleyball Camps (2012-14), and has also been a head coach at the junior varsity and club levels.
Shoji played collegiately at Irvine Valley College from 2005-07. Malia's father, Tom, has been an NCAA volleyball coach for more than 30 years. Her uncle, Dave, currently ranks second in NCAA in career wins after 40 years at Hawai'i.
Dan Corotan is in his first season with the Utes, joining the program after spending three seasons at Utah Valley.
Corotan he helped guide the Wolverines to a 45-44 overall record and 28-14 mark in Western Athletic Conference play in three years. UVU was the WAC runner-up in 2016 for the program's highest league finish. The Wolverines finished in the top eight in the nation in blocking in 2016 and '17.
Prior to being named UVU's assistant coach in 2015, Corotan served as the team's video and stats coordinator. Corotan also has coaching experience at the club level, coaching various boys' and girls' teams at the club level around Utah. Corotan graduated from BYU in 2014. He was a standout volleyball player at Los Alamitos High School (Calif.) and played club beach volleyball for several years.
Former Utah standout Brenda Whicker is in her first season as the beach volleyball head coach for the Utes.
Following a decorated indoor career at Utah from 1994-97, Whicker has played beach volleyball for over 20 years. One of the top players in the state and the region, Whicker played on the beach circuit from 2009-10 and qualified for the 2013 AVP Tournament in Salt Lake City. She has conducted beach volleyball camps and clinics for the last five years.
Whicker is one of just five Ute indoor players who have registered 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs during their careers. She ranks third all-time with 1,565 career kills and fourth overall with 1,313 career digs. She is the program's all-time leader with 161 career service aces.