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After learning with the rest of her teammates Sunday night that No. 23 Utah will play Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen admitted it: She had ruled it out.

"There was one point," she said sheepishly.

That point might have been after Utah lost its fifth straight match, to Arizona, in Tucson, before head coach Beth Launiere told her crestfallen team that anything was possible.

Even if it was far from probable.

"We were in pretty dire straits," Launiere said Sunday at the Burbidge Center. "Unless we went on this big win streak, there was a very good chance that we weren't going to make the tournament."

Her Utes finished the season by winning seven of eight — five against ranked teams, including a stunning victory against No. 3 overall seed Washington.

They knew that by Sunday night, a tournament berth had actually become probable, if not certain.

Schofield-Olsen said she and her dad had done some homework on likely destinations, though Lincoln, Neb., wasn't one of them.

It's fitting, Launiere said.

Utah's first-ever tournament appearance was in Nebraska, in 1998, when the Utes beat Illinois State in the first round and lost in four sets to Nebraska in the second.

"They have a very volleyball-specific arena that they've created, so I'm actually really excited to see that," she said.

Utah is 11-11 in the tournament, but the furthest Utah has made it is the Sweet Sixteen, in 2001 and 2008

Last year, the Utes lost to eventual champions Penn State in the second round after beating Yale in the first.

All Launiere knows about Kansas State thus far is that they play a similar style to Utah.

"We've got our work cut out for us, but obviously we're playing good volleyball, and we're excited to keep playing."

The 19-12 Utes will play the 22-8 Kansas State at 4:30 p.m. MT Friday.

Senior Shelby Dalton said there is no danger of taking anybody for granted.

Utah has taught that lesson now to too many teams.

"I don't think anyone has anything on us, because we've played the top teams and we've played well against them, so we're pretty confident," she said.

Twitter: @matthew_piper