The Utah Valley women’s volleyball team opened up their regular season with a pair of victories over the Seattle U Redhawks on Feb. 1 and 2. The Wolverines won the first match 3-0 and the second 3-1.
In the first match, junior outside hitter Kazna Tanuvasa further staked her claim in the UVU record books as she moved into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time kills leaderboard, passing Madison Dennison, who played for the Wolverines from 2014-2017.
The Redhawks stormed out to an early 14-8 lead in the first set, but the Wolverines were able to come back and take the set by a score of 25-20.
In the second set, UVU took an early lead, holding a 13-7 advantage before the Redhawks came back to cut the lead to 16-15. The Wolverines were able to put a stop to the SU run and finished the set on a 9-4 run to win it 25-19.
The final set was very tightly contested to start, with both teams tied at 16 apiece. UVU then went on a 9-2 run to close out the set and the match, finishing off the sweep.
“I was really proud of them and how they bounced back in that first set,” said head coach Sam Atoa. “I think we were a little anxious about the moment, actually having family and people in the stands and a different opponent on the other side. I think sometimes we take that for granted and I’m happy that, even though it wasn’t working out at first, they kept themselves close enough that we were to pull away.”
Junior outside hitter Kristen Bell led the Wolverines with nine kills and added four digs. Sophomore middle blocker Tori Dorius logged eight kills, while Tanuvasa added another seven.
In the first set of the second match, the Wolverines jumped out to an early advantage, leading by as many as six. The Redhawks then went on a run to tie the set at 21, but could not get any more points as UVU closed out the set 25-21.
The Wolverines were in a funk for most of set two, but finally looked to be getting into a rhythm towards the end of the set. SU led by as many as nine, including a 24-15 lead at set point but UVU answered with six more points before ultimately succumbing 25-21.
Set three was a set of runs as the Wolverines opened on a 10-2 run, but the Redhawks immediately responded with a 7-0 run. UVU closed out the set with a 15-7 run, capped off by a service ace from freshman defensive setter Bryton Bishop.
The fourth and final set was back and forth, with neither team leading by more than three. After calling a timeout with the score tied at 22, the Wolverines closed out the match on a 3-1 run to claim victory over the Redhawks.
Freshman middle blocker Kendra Nock led UVU with 13 kills, while Dorius added 12 of her own. Senior setter Jaysa Funk Stratton logged 27 assists.
While most teams are only competing in conference play in this pandemic-shortened season, UVU will have the opportunity to host their crosstown rivals, No. 14 Brigham Young, for a non-conference matchup on Thursday, Feb. 4. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. MDT and will be streamed on the WAC Digital Network.