Utah Valley stuns the Utes, secures first rivalry win since 2009 

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A back-and-forth match featuring two in-state rivals, stretched by just 43 miles in distance, the two programs met up for the 17th time in matchup history. 

Dominated by the Utes, with 11 consecutive wins dating back to 2009, the Wolverines were looking to avenge the past and set up for the future. 

Four sets later, it had been achieved. 

In the first set, Utah Valley held a 9-7 lead after a challenge deemed successful by the Wolverines. Utah Valley used this opportunity to launch a 6-0 run and extend their lead to 14-7. At one point in the set, UVU boasted a 19-9 lead. But the Utes were not going down without a fight. 

Utah would go on a 6-0 run of their own, trimming the lead to 19-15 and would even get it within only three points. However, Utah Valley wasn’t fazed and used an 11-kill effort to seal the set win at 25-19. 

Utah Valley had eight blocks in the first set stifling the Ute offense. 

The Utes came out swinging in the second set, with the Wolverines close behind trailing 10-7. The set would change hands to the end with eight ties and four lead changes throughout. 

Despite only faulting a single serve in the set, the Utes emerged victorious in set two 25-22. 

Set three featured the Wolverines maintaining a lead throughout most of the time, holding a 23-16 advantage towards the end. But like set one, the Utes were giving everything they had to stay in the match.  

The Utes would go on a 4-0 run, trimming the lead to three before senior outside hitter Tori Ellis recorded one of her 11 kills on the night to end set three. 

Ellis is the sister of current UVU Men’s Basketball player Trevin Dorius who transferred from Utah State earlier this year. 

Utah Valley recorded 16 kills in set three and featured a 65% outside hitting percentage, forcing a lot of errors from the Utes. 

Set four featured more back-and-forth action from the two teams batting for state hierarchy, with nine ties and three lead changes, putting Utah Valley ahead 15-13 at the media timeout. Utah Valley would spring forward using an 8-2 run, capping off the victory and winning the set in a dominating fashion 25-17. 

Utah Valley’s win marked only their second victory over Utah in history, and the first time since 2009. 

“It is crazy. I haven’t been a part of it until now, but it’s special.” sophomore Avery Shewell said. 

Shewell was pivotal in the Wolverines’ win over the Utes, securing 11 kills and two aces. “I’m proud. There is always room for improvement, but I am not disappointed with how I played today,” Shewell said. “We needed to take a breath and reset, and we did that really well.” 

This win is particularly impressive given that the Wolverines had played a match against NC State just four hours earlier. Head coach Sam Atoa emphasized the need for mental focus heading into the subsequent game. 

“Utah is always a good program. We stepped up and battled. It was challenging but I was proud of how they stepped up and were mentally focused,” Atoa said. “Their willingness to make that transition was huge.”  

Freshman libero Lani Matavao impressed again recording 20 digs and an ace on 25 service attempts. “We all adore her. She is amazing on and off the court,” Shewell said. “In the short time we have known each other we have really learned how to play together.” 

With the win, UVU improves to 1-1 on the season. They will look to avenge Friday’s loss against the Wolfpack on Saturday night at 6 p.m. where the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.