Great play at the net was the difference for the Wolverines as they won their first match against an in-state rival this season 3-1. Senior outside hitters Kristen Bell and Kazna Tanuvasa lead the way with 15 kills each, while Bell carried UVU early with a perfect offensive game until the set point of the second set.
Tanuvasa’s 15 kills against USU moved her to 1,324 career kills and just 77 kills away from third place on the all-time career kills list at UVU. Tanuvasa is also only 276 kills away from taking sole possession of the most career kills in UVU history, a record set by Kayli Doxey in 2010.
“I was really pleased with our players sticking to the system,” said UVU head coach Sam Atoa. “We’ve been talking about that and helping them to trust in what they had prepared for and their abilities to execute. It was a fun night. Any time you get the in-state schools together, it brings out the best in you. I’m a firm believer that it’s not going to take just seven kids for us to win a conference championship or go beyond that. Having these young players contribute to the experienced core that we have will benefit us going forward.”
The first set was defined by long runs from both sides. A characteristic that neither team is known for. The Wolverines jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage while USU was able to battle back to make it 5-4 behind the serving of sophomore outside hitter Tatum Stall. UVU was able to pull away late in the set to take a 1-0 set advantage due to efficient passing and a high kill rate of 37 percent.
The Aggies caught their only break of the night in the second set after the momentum of the match shifted in their favor. UVU senior middle blocker Sadie Hamson was called for a net violation after USU elected to use one of three available challenges. From that point on, the Aggies went on a seven point run and never looked back, winning the second set 25-20.
USU’s win in the second set was their first win in a set against UVU since 2017 when the two teams met in Logan. Since then, the Wolverines had won 10 straight sets in the series sweeping the Aggies 3-0 in both of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Set three was largely a back-and-forth affair that saw nine scoring ties and one lead change. The largest lead of the set was a three point advantage held by UVU late in the set when they led 23-20. USU rallied to cut the lead to one point before the Wolverines were able to close out the set and take a 2-1 match lead.
UVU cruised to close out the match behind a team kill of 42 percent in the fourth set, winning the set 25-19.
The Wolverines are currently on a three game win streak heading into a tough portion of their schedule, where they will face nationally ranked BYU on Saturday and perennial WAC powerhouse New Mexico State to kick off conference play.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.