The Utah Valley Women’s Volleyball team fell to NC State in the opening game of the Utah Valley Invitational 3-1 (25-21, 25-15, 25-20, 25-12) suffering its first loss of the season.
What started out as an impressive match for the Wolverines quickly turned south. Utah Valley started a 5-0 scoring run in the first set, even establishing a lead of 18-10 before surrendering a 9-2 run to the Wolfpack.
While Utah Valley was able to secure the set win, it did not come as easy as they hoped.
Sophomore outside hitter Avery Shewell recorded five kills on seven attempts, while senior Kalea Kennedy had four of her own.
A standout from the first set was UVU hitting .412, overshadowing NC State’s .188.
Set two consisted of a breakdown from the Wolverines. The Wolfpack quickly jumped to a 7-2 lead, prompting a UVU timeout. Shortly after the timeout, NC State would go on another 7-2 run, forcing the Wolverines to use their second and final timeout of the set.
The Wolverines hit substantially worse in set two hitting just .034 to the Wolfpack’s .207 which proved essential to their loss in that set.
However, the Wolverines were not going to concede.
The two battled back-and-forth for most of the third set with UVU capping off a 3-0 run leading 11-9. But, like the second set, the Wolverines would give up a 7-2 run. NC State would command a 21-16 lead, a gap too significant for Utah Valley to bridge.
“They had a really good server that disrupted us a little. We made some good adjustments in the third set; we just didn’t play as well as they did.” head coach Sam Atoa said. “We need to get ready for our next match against Utah.”
In set four, the Wolverines struggled against the Wolfpack as they were quickly crowded with a large deficit. A hitting rate of just .038 in the final set left Utah Valley with no chance of coming back.
Shewell finished the game with a team high 12 kills, boasting a .296 hit percentage and a service ace.
Freshman libero Lani Matavao starred in her first collegiate match recording 18 digs and 39 receptions. “I am really happy with what Lani is doing. I think that she has a great future ahead,” Atoa said about the freshman.
Despite the loss, the Wolverines have a chance at redemption. The Utah Valley Invitational is a two day, three match highlight. Utah Valley will get another opportunity at NC State on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“We have to turn things around from being physically, mentally, or emotionally. If we can get ourselves excited to be on the court, I think we will be okay,” Atoa stated on playing back-to-back matches. “If we worry too much about the mistakes we made, and dwell on that it will make it really hard on us.”
NC State and Utah will face each other on Saturday at 12 p.m. and then NC State will have a double-header as they take on Utah Valley at 6 p.m.
All games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Nathan Dunn is the Sports Editor for the UVU Review. After three years at Utah State, Nathan is majoring in Public Relations and Digital Media at Utah Valley University. In his free time, Nathan likes to watch all sports but mostly College Football. Nathan works hard to give the best sports content to UVU fans, media, and students.