Wolverines fall short in 3-2 loss to Sam Houston 

Kazna Tanuvasa serves (Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics).

The Utah Valley University women’s volleyball team fell 3-2 to the Sam Houston State University Bearkats in a five-set thriller on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Lockhart Arena in Orem, Utah. The Wolverines tied the match 2-2 after falling 2-0 in the first two sets but were narrowly defeated 19-17 in the fifth set by the Bearkats to lose the match ultimately.

The Wolverines now drop to a record of 7-7 on the season (4-2 at home) and are 2-1 at the beginning of conference play, placing them fifth in the Western Athletic Conference Standings

UVU had three players combine for 47 of the 66 teamkills with Kazna Tanuvasa recording 17 kills, Avery Shewell getting 16 kills, and Tori Dorius clocking 14 kills. Natalie Palmer recorded three service aces and 27 assists while Bryton Nixon had two service aces and 25 digs. Abbie Miller led the team in assists with 30 and Dorius led the team in blocks with four while Tanuvasa and Jules Fink had three blocks apiece.

The Bearkats started the first set hot with a 5-0 run that turned into a 10-4 run. The Wolverines tried to battle back but the Bearkats kept responding and eventually established a 23-15 lead. 

However, the Wolverines weren’t done yet as they used four errors from the Bearkats and a pair of Shewell kills to go on a 6-1 run and cut the lead down 24-21. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, an attack error by Shewell would end the set with a final score of 25-21. 

The second set began back-and-forth between both teams, with each team gaining a few mini runs to keep tying the game until the set went to a score of 12-12. The Bearkats prompt went on a 7-0 run after the tie. 

After a few Wolverine kills by Makayla Broadbent and Hailey Cuff in an effort to slow down the Bearkat’s eruption, the Bearkats prompt went on a 6-1 run to finish the set with a score of 25-15 and give SHSU a 2-0 match lead.

After an alternating start for the third set, the Bearkats had a 15-12 lead midway through the set until the Wolverines used a 3-0 run to tie the set 15-15. The Bearkats proceeded with a 7-3 run to respond and commandeer the lead.

However, Wolverines would use a 4-0 run followed by two 2-0 runs to combine for an 8-2 run to close out the set and give the Wolverines a 26-24 set victory to cut the match deficit 2-1. 

The fourth set also began back-and-forth with the Bearkats starting off with a 12-11 lead after different small runs by both teams. The Wolverines then went on a 6-2 run, highlighted by three kills from Tanuvasa, to take a 17-14 lead. 

The Bearkats answered with a 4-0 run to retake the lead 18-17 before the Wolverines used four kills to go on a 5-1 run and have a 22-19 edge. SHSU quickly answered again with a 3-0 run to tie the set; however, the Wolverines would use a 4-2 run that was capped off with a set-winning service ace by Nixon to win 26-24 and tied the set 2-2. 

The fifth set yet again began evenly matched with both sides trading points until the Bearkats jumped out to an 11-8 lead. The Wolverines rebounded with a 3-0 run to tie the set 11-11. 

The Bearkats went on a 3-1 run to retake the lead 14-12 before the Wolverines answered again with a 4-1 run to steal back the lead 16-15. However, SHSU went on a 4-1 run of their own to close out the set with the last three points going unanswered and won the set 19-17 and match 3-2.

The Wolverines will look to rebound against former WAC-rival the Chicago State University Cougars in another home matchup on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Lockhart Arena in Orem, Utah. The match will begin at 6 p.m. MT and can be streamed on ESPN+.

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