With UVU making the move to the Western Athletic Conference next season, the women’s volleyball team decided to send a message to upcoming rivals in its new conference. The team did so in sweeping fashion as it was able to knock off Texas-Pan American in three straight sets followed by Houston Baptist in the same manner.
Erica Nish, the only senior on the team, was named Tournament MVP after averaging 11 kills and two blocks per match over two games in the tourney. Nish led the Wolverines against Houston Baptist, posting 13 kills, eight digs and two block assists to finish off her collegiate career. This time last year, Nish had blown out her knee and could only cheer on her teammates from the sideline. This year, she was very much part of the action and has a championship to show for it.
“I’m very happy for Erica,” head coach Sam Atoa said. “It’s satisfying to see the comeback she’s made and to see her get out there and have a great weekend. We needed that from her in order to be successful.”
Nish wasn’t the only one making a statement for the Lady Wolverines. Kalani Norris made her pressence known with 11 kills of her own. She also had seven digs to her name against Houston Baptist as UVU had a total of 57 digs.
Alongside Nish, McKenna Tait and Brookelyn Hall were named to the All-Tournament Team and had impressive games, as well, with Tait’s 22 digs and Hall’s 37 assists.
It was the first conference championship the Wolverines have attained and it was a sweet one for 14-season coach Atoa.
“We’ve had some really good teams in the past but it’s taken us four years to finally claim this championship,” Atoa said. “We knew this would be a challenge with a young team, but we believed in ourselves and we got it done.”
After winning the GWC Tournament, UVU had one more game to play against No. 16 BYU. Although BYU got the victory against UVU, it didn’t hurt their spirits or tarnish their season one bit, acoording to Atoa.
“We’ve had a great year and we’re going to continue to be proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Atoa said. “This one loss to the 16th-ranked team in the country won’t diminish anything.”
With another season under its belt and first championship in the trophy case, UVU will now turn it’s attention to next season when it joins the WAC. With a conference victory, the Wolverines would get an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Only time will tell if they have what it takes to weave through the WAC. But for now, the Wolverines will take being the Great West Conference champions.
Alex Rivera is the assistant sports editor of the UVU Review. You can contact him at [email protected] or through his Twitter account @A_River_Uh.