By: Jessica Whalen, Sports Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The UVU women’s volleyball team has won nine of their last 11 games.
Utah Valley was able to sweep three conference matches earlier this month by beating Texas-Pan American (25-9, 25-11, 25-23), Kansas City (20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 15-7), and Chicago State (25-13, 25-14, 26-24).
Kalani Norris, a junior outside hitter, helped the Wolverines in their three victories, recording 42 kills and 25 digs. Norris has been exceptional in the past few games while also recording a double-double of 22 kills and 18 digs. Her help came when it was needed most. Norris leads the Wolverines in kills.
UVU has been able to turn its season around. As a team, the Wolverines have a hitting percentage of .226 and are averaging 1.23 service aces per set. Sophomore Lauren Stringham is the team-leader in blocks, and junior McKenna Tait is first in the WAC in service aces per set.
Utah Valley had its first loss after the three-game winning streaks against Bakersfield. The Wolverines won eight out of their last nine matches, including a 6-1 record on the road.
“It’s always a challenge to win on the road,” said head coach Sam Atoa. “But we’re hoping to feed off of our recent successes away from home.”
The Wolverines didn’t let their loss to Bakersfield dictate their upcoming games. Utah Valley was able to sweep Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Arizona (25-12, 25-14, 25-22). This was the first meeting between the teams. With the win, the Wolverines moved to 11-10 overall and 5-2 in the WAC.
“Sometimes it’s hard to respond after a loss, but the girls did just that tonight,” Atoa said. “I’m very proud of them and how they were able to stick to the game plan and execute out on the court.”
The Wolverines left their conference Tuesday and faced their in-state rival Utah State at home. Utah Valley came into the match hoping to avenge a five-set defeat against the Aggies last season.
Utah Valley fell in straight sets to Utah State (12-25, 18-25, 15-25).
“There are certain challenges that [we] faced in the match that we feel like we can be better at and that we will be better at in the future,” Atoa said. “It was just a struggle for us tonight.”
The Wolverines were only down by two in the first set but the Aggies scored seven of the next eight points. The Aggies lead didn’t stop there, and they ended up winning the first set by 13 points and the second set by seven.
The Aggies never trailed against the Wolverines. Utah State out-hit and out-blocked Utah Valley throughout the match.
Although the Wolverines lost to the Aggies, it didn’t stop Brooklyn Hall from having 20 assists, nine digs, four kills and four blocks. In addition, Tait had 12 digs and an ace while Norris, Katie Fritzler, and Cassie Wahlin had five kills apiece.
UVU bounced back from its loss in Logan to sweep all three sets against Texas-Pan American (25-8, 25-17, 25-19) and capture its fourth conference win. The team was then home against first place New Mexico State Oct. 19.
The Wolverines will continue to host WAC foes this week, starting with Idaho on Oct. 24 and Seattle University Oct. 26.