Utah Valley began tournament play Friday night against the Michigan Wolverines. Mistakes were the theme early for UVU as they lost 0-3 (17-25, 17-25, 25-27). After getting out to an even UVU began to struggle with the serving ability of Michigan.
“We really struggled passing the ball,” observed Coach Sam Atoa, “especially in those first two sets.”
On average this year the Wolverines have made 2.2 receiving errors per match. The difference in competition level was immediately apparent as their error average nearly tripled in this match, (6.3 errors per set). Michigan jumped from a 3-3 tie to an early five-point lead the UVU women had trouble overcoming. Michigan extended the lead to eight, which was the eventual margin of victory in the first set.
The second set was more of the same for both sets of Wolverines. UVU hung around, tying the set at 5-5 before allowing Michigan to take another five point lead at 12-7. The score precipitously got larger until it was 20-11 and Utah Valley made a late rally to close the lead to 23-17. At that point Michigan closed the door and the match.
“We have a lot more fight [in the second set]. The girls could see that, everyone could see that,” noted Atoa, “Yeah we lost, but we fought hard. Hopefully we can come back and play more like that tomorrow.”
In the third set UVU made a game of things. They jumped out to a much stronger start, leading 3-2 and capitalizing on the early lead. They pulled away a little to lead 9-6 and maintaining the advantage until leading 15-12.
Experience then became a factor.
Michigan fought back to tie the score at 17, 19, 22, 23, 24 and 25. Throughout that period UVU would score to take the lead then give it back on an immediate side out. The Michigan wolverines proved to be too much as they closed their late rally with a 25-27 victory over the Utah VAlley.
Now UVU looks forward to Saturday’s slate of games including matches against Cal Poly at noon and Santa Clara at seven. They will be looking to overcome a three-game losing streak that started last weekend against Northern Arizona University and continued through the week with a loss to the Slovenian national team.