The Utah Valley Volleyball team suffered its first conference loss to Tarleton State 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 25-15, 25-18). The Wolverines have now lost their fourth straight game, bringing their overall record to 3-9.
The Wolverines could not put the pieces together tonight.
The first set was by far the most encouraging of the three, with UVU showing flashes of the great team it has the potential to be.
Both teams were fighting for every point, with UVU falling behind early. Led by sophomore Avery Shewell’s six kills on six attempts, the Wolverines came roaring back and dominated the second half of the set.
One of the best aspects of the Wolverines play was their defense at the net, racking up multiple blocks and having excellent intensity. UVU finished the set on an inspiring 9-3 run and closed the door on the Texans in the first set.
The second set was a severe step back for the Wolverines. Front line play, something that was a major strength in the first set, was instead a struggle in the second.
Shewell went from being 6-for-6 to three of 16 on kills in the second set. UVU could not get solid attacking opportunities early and seemed to be thwarted constantly by Tarleton State’s front line.
Any scoring run by the Wolverines would be halted by a key block or a missed attack. The Wolverines simply could not put any attacking pressure on the Texans.
Even when the Wolverines were playing in system, they could not spike with enough power to disrupt the Texans offense.
“They played better than we did,” said head coach Sam Atoa. “We definitely had moments, but we didn’t take care of it in the match like we did in the first set.”
Tarleton State ended the set on a dominant note, winning the set 25-19.
Utah Valley’s play derailed from the first set, which was encouraging for the Wolverines, while the third set was an unmitigated disaster.
The Wolverines started off well, gaining a 7-5 lead, but that was the lone bright spot for the Wolverines. Tarleton State answered with a 5-0 run and did not look back.
Once again, the Wolverines’ woes would continue at the net. It was a vicious cycle: weak attacks by the Wolverines would lead to powerful retaliation by the Texans.
The Wolverines had difficulty recovering from the Texans’ spikes. They struggled with digging—often sending the ball out of bounds—and had issues setting up attackers because of bad passes.
The Wolverines were consistently out of position, and these struggles lead to an insurmountable 18-9 deficit that would end in a 25-15 defeat in set two, with the Wolverines ending the set with a rough hitting percentage of .118.
The final set was simply an extension of the third.
Difficulties at the net did not cease and the Texans’ attack led by Emma Burke continued to poke holes in the Wolverines defense.
The same errors that plagued the Wolverines in the sets prior would deal a fatal blow to their chances. The Texans would go on a major run in the middle of the set and never come within three points for the remainder of the match.
This victory gave the Tarleton State Texans their first ever conference opener
“This is a tough loss,” said Atoa. “We will learn from this and get better.”
The Wolverines will look to improve and snap their four-game losing streak against Abilene Christian this Saturday Sept. 23. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.