Conference titans collide

By P. Brady Fish

@pbradyfish

Hoping to take their season to a perfect 5-0 in conference play, the lady Wolverines fell to the Huskies of Houston Baptist, 3-1 Thursday night in the UVU PE Building. The women’s volleyball team previously defeated the Huskies earlier this month in a road match on Oct. 6 and looked to repeat their winning performance again in front of the high-energy home crowd. Coming in to the match the lady Wolverines had won six straight games.

Before the game head coach Sam Atoa, commented on the team’s recent success.

“We still got some learning to do, however, we are in a better place now than we were six matches ago,” said Atoa. “I feel like we need a different adjustment and better commitment and determination to be able to get better. With certain losses that we’ve been through, that has
helped us grow and prepare ourselves for what we need to do. We’re in a good position as far as being in the drivers seat, determining who ends up being in first.”

When asked about the build up for a match verses the second place Huskies, the PINK game honoring former volleyball head coach Lori Richards, who passed away last year after her battle with cancer, and with the game airing live on UVU TV—Atoa made it point for the team to remain focused.

“We’re for sure not going to take things for granted. Playing for Lori is huge for us. Playing the match is also important for us in being able to keep building on what we’ve been doing to be successful.”

In between the first and second set, Lori Richard’s son, along with her sister, were honored at the game with a UVU volleyball team jersey presentation for the 19 years Richards put in to the volleyball program during her 30 year tenure at Utah Valley.

At the beginning of the first set the Wolverines were able to pull ahead of Houston Baptist 12-7, forcing the Huskies to call their first time out of the evening. The Wolverines took their lead in the set to 20-10, again compelling HBU to call for time. Unable to quell, UVU’s momentum, led by kills from sophomore Kalani Norris and senior Erica Nish, the lady Wolverines put away the first set with a 25-15 victory.

Nish built on her first set performance, showing power in the second set, with seven kills and a serving ace.

UVU brought the crowd to its feet for the majority of the fourth set, everybody playing with high energy. The score was tied 19 times and had nine different lead changes. Decked out in pink, the crowd went in to an uproar after a powerful kill from Norris, putting the Wolverines back in to the set at 18-20. Unfortunately, the evening and set ended with a 25-21 Huskie win. Norris and Nish finished the evening with 12 and 16 total kills respectively.

Women’s volleyball ends their conference play on the road with games on Nov. 6 at NJIT and Nov. 10 at Chicago State. The Great West Conference tournament begins Nov. 16 and will be played in Orem, Utah.

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