Volleyball moves into first-place tie in WAC

Volleyball moves into first-place tie in WAC

Jessica Whalen jlhwhalen@gmail.com

 

UVU was able to sweep its weekend matches in Western Athletic Conference play, including beating first-place New Mexico State on Saturday Oct. 20.

The Wolverines faced Texas-Pan American and New Mexico State at home Thursday Oct. 17 and Saturday Oct. 20 in the PE Building.

Utah Valley entered the weekend matchup coming in from a three-see loss streak to Utah State (12-25, 18-25, 15-25). The Wolverines currently hold a 13-11 overall record and a 7-2 record in league. The Wolverines had won nine of 11 matches prior to their loss at Utah State. The team was set to break its losing streak against UTPA, and had a tough challenge against New Mexico State.

“Our loss to Utah State doesn’t affect our conference goals,” head coach Sam Atoa said. “We were hoping to keep our momentum going that we sustained on Saturday into this week but we weren’t the better team on Tuesday. We’ve recommitted ourselves to a couple of things to become a better team come Thursday.”

Recommitment is exactly what the Wolverines were focused on. Utah Valley entered its matches against Texas-Pan American and New Mexico State in a second-place tie in the WAC standings and was committed to come out on top.

The Wolverines faced UTPA for the second time this season after their first matchup Sept. 30 in Edinburg, Texas. The Wolverines were looking to stop the Broncs’ leaders, Haley Durham and Maria Kliefoth. Durham is number one in kills with a 2.19 per set average and blocks at 0.94 per set average. Kliefoth is right behind her with a 2.18 per set average in kills and is number one in tops in attack percentage at .292.

The Wolverines hold a 22-1 series lead to the Broncs, winning 18 straight, and have a perfect 12-0 overall mark against them in Orem. Utah Valley was able to maintain its strong play in the series as it swept all three games against Texas-Pan American (25-8, 25-17, 25-19).

The Wolverines dominated the first set by scoring eight out of the first ten points. That was just the beginning for the Wolverines; they led at 11-4 and scored the next nine points. This brought the lead to 20-4. Nakisha Willden led UVU with four kills and Brookelyn Hall had a pair of service aces. The Wolverines took full advantage of the nine attack errors by the Broncs in the second set. Kaysie Taylor was able to end the set (25-8) on a kill.

Utah Valley was able to move to 6-2 in the WAC and hosted first-place New Mexico State next. The Aggies were the only undefeated team in the WAC entering their matchup against Utah Valley at a perfect 6-0. The Wolverines were just a game and a half behind the Aggies in the standings.

The Wolverines were ready to stop the Aggies’ leaders, Desiree Scott and Lauren Loerch. Scott leads the Aggies and also ranks second in WAC in hitting at a .379 per-set average and in blocks at a 1.24 per set. Loerch is the WAC leader in kills at 2.74 per set average.

Utah Valley and New Mexico State had their first contest between the two schools Saturday Oct. 20. The Wolverines were able to knock off the Aggies (25-16, 25-23, 25-18).

Records were set by UVU against New Mexico State, including a career-high of 13 kills by Cassie Wahlin. Other standouts were Lauren Stringham who finished one kill shy of double digits at nine, Brookelyn Hall had 33 assists and Katie Fritzler and Kalani Norris had seven kills apiece.

The Wolverines are now 7-2 in the WAC in a first-place tie with Seattle University. Up next the Wolverines will face Idaho and look to break the tie with Seattle University. The Wolverines will host the Vandals Thursday, Oct. 24 and the Redhawks Saturday, Oct. 26. The Wolverines will finish off with a non-conference game against Southern Utah on Oct. 28.

 

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