UVU volleyball tops UTRGV for third straight victory

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On Oct. 11, UVU’s volleyball team landed their third straight win, topping the WAC’s top-seeded University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in four sets.

It was an important night for the Wolverines, not only to perform well but also to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as each of the team members arrived at the game wearing pink warm-ups and played in pink socks.

“We’re doing all we can to bring awareness to a world-wide effort, a cause that unfortunately, so many are challenged with,” said head coach Sam Atoa. “Tonight each of the girls played for someone, whether it [was someone with] breast cancer or cancer in general. They wrote their name down on a ball and I think that motivated them to keep fighting. Tonight was a special night for us to play for those who have been affected by cancer, and we hope that we can keep that inspiration and motivation to keep playing hard.”

The victory comes shortly after Coach Atoa reached his historic 400th career win against Grand Canyon University on Oct. 6, the most among any active coach of a UVU sport.

In the opening set, UTRGV immediately jumped to a 6-1 lead. Trailing 18-12 later in the game, a block from junior Makaila Jarema helped re-energize the Wolverines, who cut the gap down to 18-16. Despite staying competitive, UVU wasn’t able to complete the comeback and ended up falling 25-22. Jarema finished the set with a team-high three blocks.

Bouncing back from the early loss, UVU came out strong in the second set. After a long rally, a hit from freshman Kazna Tarawhiti put the Wolverines in the lead for the first time in the night. Big kills from fellow freshman Kalli Downs and sophomore Kristen Allred helped extend that lead until the Wolverines came up with the 25-18 victory.

The third set, the Wolverines took control from the beginning. Allred and junior Jasmin Niutupuivaha led the early rally to help UVU jump up to 12-5 right off the bat. Stopping a late comeback attempt, the Wolverines were able to hold on and come out on top 26-24. Jarema again led the way with five blocks and Tarawhiti had five kills in the set.

UTRGV took a 3-0 lead in the following set, but a hit from the UVU’s lone senior, Alexis Davies, helped put an end to the run. The rest of the game the teams remained close. Tied at 21-21, Jarema again came up big with a block that caused the stadium to erupt and put the Wolverines ahead. From there, UVU held on to seal the win 25-23.

“It was great for sure,” said Coach Atoa. “I think that really helps build their confidence in what they are able to do.”

The Wolverines will be heading to New Mexico State for their next match on Oct. 18.


Photo courtesy of: UVU Athletics