Jessica Whalen, firstname.lastname@example.org
The UVU women’s volleyball team came off difficult finishes at the La Quinta Inn and Suites Invitational and the Arizona Desert Classic and responded with a win over Weber State.
The Wolverines invited Idaho State and Utah to the Wolverine Classic, and UC Irvine expressed interest in coming. Sam Atoa was able to work out the details with UC Irvine, and got a commitment for its team to come.
Coach Atoa is in his 15th season as head coach at UVU. He began with the Wolverines as the assistant coach to the former head coach, Lori Richards. Atoa’s experience comes from playing volleyball for Brigham Young University for four seasons (1984-1988). He helped the Cougars capture three consecutive National Collegiate Club Championships.
Atoa began coaching at BYU in 1989, which eventually led to him assisting coach Carl McGown in building BYU’s program when women’s volleyball became recognized as an NCAA sport in 1990. He traveled back and forth between BYU and Utah Valley as he accepted a supervising position in the intramural program. Later, he accepted the position of the women’s volleyball head coach at Utah Valley in 1991, and was named Intramural Director two years later. Atoa remained Director until 2001, while still coaching each year.
In 1999 Atoa became the head coach of the women’s volleyball team at Utah Valley. In the coach’s first season as the head coach he was able to lead the Wolverines to a 32-12 record. He has been named the Tachikara/AVCA Junior College National Coach of the Year and Region 18 Coach of the Year. During his tenure the Wolverines hold a 313-144 overall record and a 175-113 record in the 10 seasons during which they have competed in NCAA Division I.
Atoa’s team is coming off a Great West Conference title and a 7-1 league record last season. The team captured its first GWC Tournament Championship by winning all six sets in the conference tournament last year. However, this season the Wolverines are lacking with what they led with last season, understanding of responsibilities.
“Better execution, be disciplined on defense, reduce serving errors and sideout at 65%.” Atoa said after being asked about specific areas in which the team can progress.
He has focused his attention more on discipline and execution in practice for the Wolverines.
“Better practices and understanding of responsibilities, focusing on the little things that are hurting us, will help us in future games.” he said.
The Wolverines were able to sweep their match at Weber State on Sept. 17th (25-17, 25-17, 25-19) to end a five-game losing streak.
“We played well on both sides of the ball tonight,” Atoa said. “The girls did a great job of being able to take control of the match and I felt like they really disrupted Weber State’s offense, which allowed us to score some points.”
Sam Atoa has faith the Wolverines use their win at Weber State as a confidence builder. The Wolverines travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the Air Force Invitational where they will face AFA, UC Riverside and Wyoming on Sept. 20 and 21 before beginning conference play.