The Wolverines have been playing hard all season long to prove they can be a force to be reckoned with in the WAC. Having been picked to finish second before the season, the Wolverines are in that slot and have extended their win streak to five matches.
UVU had key matches to stay in the hunt for the highly sought after WAC championship. The team started on the road against the Cougars of Chicago State Nov. 2 and then came home to compete against newcomers to Division I in Grand Canyon University Nov. 7.
The Cougars are a familiar foe for the Wolverines, having played against them for years in the Great West. Because of that familiarity, the Wolverines could have felt like they were going to just win it in three sets and move onto Grand Canyon. But UVU dropped the first match to the Cougars 25-19.
Not wanting to be shown up by a team they have dominated in years past, the Wolverines came out and played well and won the next three sets (25-14, 25-12 and 25-17) to take the match and keep momentum on the goal of taking the conference.
“Unfortunately, I felt like we kind of got a little complacent tonight,” head coach Sam Atoa said. “However, the girls responded well after losing that first set and really managed to take control in the final three sets. This is just one of those things that everyone has to learn and I was pleased that the girls managed to respond and get better as the match went on.”
The Wolverines headed into the match extremely confident having extended the winning streak on the road, returning to face a much weaker opponent at home in Grand Canyon. However, like UVU, GCU wants to prove that the program belongs among the Division I ranks and came out with fury.
The Antelopes took the first set 25-22, surprising the home team. Fortunately for UVU, the team responded the same way it had against Chicago State, which led to a total team effort en route to another Wolverine victory.
“We made it hard on ourselves with so many mistakes, however, we did what we needed to do to get the job done,” Atoa said. “I was real pleased with how Jaramey Barney played tonight. KalaniNorris also added a great hitting performance and Katie Fitzler continues to come through for us as well.”
Great team play has led to much success for UVU this season, on a team level and an individual level. Senior Brookelyn Hall broke the all-time assists record for the school, which led to WAC Player of the Week honors. Mckenna Tait tied the school record for scoring aces. The team play will need to continue to get contributions from various members of the team to make a push for the regular season conference title.
The Wolverines are currently behind New Mexico State for the top spot by only a single match. UVU still hopes that the match against the Aggies will be for the WAC title Nov. 21. The team faces Bakersfield at home first, Nov. 16 to try and avenge a loss against the Roadrunners and stay in contention for the title.
Garrett is native of Orem, Utah. He is a graduate of Timpanogos High School. While in high school, Garrett enjoyed playing sports and was a double lettered athlete in football in wrestling. After a short stint of college football at Dixie State, Garrett made his way back to Utah Valley in pursuit of his aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. Garrett has been contributing for the UVU Review for three years and has covered sports, specializing in wrestling. Garrett is married to Jodi Coleman and served an LDS mission to Baguio Philippines. You can follow him on twitter @legendgary