Day two of a huge sports weekend for UVU

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Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias

Photos courtesy of @gabicampbellphotos & UVU Athletics

Last night, the Utah Valley University volleyball team opened up the biggest sports weekend to date in UVU athletics history with a 3-1 win over UTRGV.  Lauren Bakker became the first player with 1,000 kills and 500 blocks in UVU volleyball history and the fourth player to reach 1,000 kills.  The volleyball team also remained in a tie for the No. 2 seed with CSU Bakersfield in next week’s WAC tournament. They will face WAC regular season champions New Mexico State on Saturday at 11 a.m.  10548157_945534465473542_221659154937208425_o

This leads us into Friday.  To say that Friday the 13th is a big day for UVU athletics is kind of an understatement.  For starters, the UVU cross country teams compete in the NCAA Regional Championships starting with the women’s race at noon and then men following up at 1 p.m. The reigning WAC champions have runners on both sides that have potential to qualify for nationals including WAC individual champion Jason Lynch and two-time WAC runner of the week Tyson Lambert.  They face a difficult field as seven teams from the West Region qualified for nationals last season including BYU and Colorado.  UVU is ranked 9th in the West Region but with a good effort they could qualify for nationals for the the first time since joining the WAC.

Greg Maas and the UVU men’s soccer team learned who their opponent will be in their semifinal match of the WAC men’s soccer tournament Friday afternoon.  They will face defending champion UNLV at 3:30 p.m. in Kansas City.  The Rebels defeated San Jose State 3-1 on Thursday afternoon and are looking to knock off UVU for the second time this season.  UNLV and UVU met back on October 25 and the Rebels won in overtime.  UVU will look to Alex Neff, Karson Payton, Styler Milne, Paul Hoffmeister, and goalkeeper Collin Partee, who were named members of the All-WAC team on Wednesday evening, to move on and play for the WAC championship.20140909_Mens_Soccer_Homecoming_0670

Then we come to what will be going on in Provo at the Marriott Center.  Cathy Nixon leads her Wolverines against the school that she played at and coached at before coming to UVU.  She will look to Mariah Seals and Rhaiah Spooner-Knight to help slow down a BYU team led by Lexi Eaton Rydalch and JUCO transfer Kalani Purcell.  It is a game that BYU head coach Jeff Judkins believes is the Super Bowl for UVU.  It is also a game that he hopes will continue to be played each year and that both coaches believe is good for Utah county.

How often do we see an arena sold out for the season opener for two teams that really are at different ends of the spectrum right now?  Well you will get to see that on Friday night when the men’s teams for UVU and BYU tip off at 7 p.m. UVU finished fifth in the WAC standings a year ago with an 11-19 overall record while BYU won 25 games for the eighth time under head coach Dave Rose.  New UVU head coach Mark Pope returns to the school where he was an assistant coach for four years and recruited players like Chase Fischer while there.  Both teams will be breaking in some new players as UVU returns only one starter from a year ago in senior guard Marcel Davis.  BYU meanwhile returns potential All-American and Mr. Do Everything Kyle Collinsworth and Fischer who has great range.  The battle might be decided in the trenches though where BYU has a big advantage.  Corbin Kaufusi, Nate Austin, Kyle Davis and potentially Jamal Aytes will face off against Andrew Bastien, Darrius Hamilton, Dayon Goodman, and Konner Frey.  It is a good thing for the valley and could be the start of something special between these two cross-county opponents in what may become known as the University Parkway Series.

It may be Friday the 13th and a day that people become very superstitious.  Mark Pope is one of those people but he believes something different than most people would think.

“It’s Friday the 13th. Anything can happen on Friday the 13th.”