The Wolverine volleyball team found out the importance of starting fast Friday night. In their match against the Illinois State Redbirds, the team that jumped out to an early lead in each set ended up winning.
The Wolverines won the match 3-2.
“That was a brawl, an absolute brawl,” UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. “We knew it would be, but the girls were able to learn from it and come back and compete.”
The Wolverines were tested early and often by the Redbirds. After getting down 3-0 to begin the first set, UVU came back and tied the game. Throughout the game they kept giving up a lead, then fighting back to tie the game only to lose the lead again. The match featured 17 ties and four lead changes, and was extended by ten points as the ties kept going and neither team was able to capitalize on one point lead to end the game. Eventually the Redbirds pulled it out, winning 35-33.
Coach Atoa proved a master motivator in the second game as the Wolverines stormed out to a 10-1 lead that was fueled by the service of Lindsay Barker, who served ten times in a row, including three aces and no errors. The rest of the team followed her example, serving a near perfect set and dominating Illinois State by the score of 25-15.
The third set offered a humbling reversal of fortunes as the Wolverines fell behind 0-5 and never managed to get into the match. They only scored 16 scattered points as they were never able to string a run together.
The fourth set started evenly before Chelsea Heaps started coming through. The senior’s production had been conspicuously absent throughout the match until that point. When she started stepping up, the rest of the team followed suit and turned what was a closely contested match into another lopsided score in favor of the Wolverines. Also stepping up in the fourth match was the lone junior on the team, Erica Nish. She scored three aces and five total points in the set.
The fifth set featured another close start. The teams exchanged points until seven and then the Wolverines went on an 8-0 streak that ended the match 15-7.
This is the first win for the volleyball team this year. They will play two more games on Saturday as they continue to host the Wolverine Invitational.