The Utah Valley University volleyball team pulled off the upset, taking down the No. 1 seed University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros in three sets Friday (25-22,25-19,27-25). The Wolverines advance to the Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament Championship game, where they will face Stephen F. Austin University.
The Wolverines got their revenge after losing to the Vaqueros at the end of the regular season 3-1 in Orem. Avery Shewell and Kazna Tanuvasa each led the Wolverines with 12 kills. Abbie Miller again help set up her teammates well, dishing out 18 assists in the contest. On the defensive side of the net, Caleigh Vagana led the Wolverines with three blocks and Bryton Nixon recorded 22 digs.
In the first set, each team started out trading points. After the Vaqueros tied the game at 8-8, the Wovlerines rallied off a 8-1 run to claim a 16-9 lead. The Vaqueros would not let the first set slip away without a fight, responding with their own 7-1 run and bringing the score to 17-16. The match would eventually become knotted at 20-20. A service ace from Tanuvasa sparked a 5-2 run to close out the set 25-22.
The Wolverines claimed a paper-thin lead and clung onto it for the majority of the second set. Leading 22-19 late in the period, the Wolverines rallied on a crucial 3-0 run to claim the second set, including another service ace from Tanuvasa.
The third and final set of the match was also the most tightly contested. UVU fell into an early 13-4 deficit and trailed by as many as 11. Trailing 21-11 and seeming to have condeded the third set, the Wolverines rallied off an incredible 8-0 run and cutting the deficit to just three. After a point by UTRGV, the Wolverines would go on an additional 3-0 run and eventually tie the match at 24, completing the miraculous comeback. Shewell had consecutive kills in addition to a UTRGV attack error, allowing the Wolverines a final 3-0 run to finish the third set and win set and match 27-25.
The Wolverines now look to the WAC Volleyball Tournament Championship, where they will face the No. 2 seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The championship game takes place on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT and can be streamed on ESPN+.