Volleyball: UVU downs NIU in Hawaii

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Photo courtesy UVU Athletics

HONOLULU, Hawaii—In their final game of the Hawaii Outrigger Challenge, the Utah Valley University volleyball team pulled off the win over Northern Illinois University Saturday night.

“The girls truly earned this one and I’m happy that we we’re able to pull it out,” UVU head coach Sam Atoa said in a statement to WolverineGreen.com. “I am very proud of the result and of the hard work from a number of our girls in this one.”

In the second-ever meeting between the schools, UVU (4-6) outlasted NIU (5-3) in five sets (25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11) in a back-and-forth game that lasted nearly two and a half hours. A pair of Wolverines recorded career bests as Lexi Thompson tallied 24 kills and Sierra Starley added 57 assists to lead the charge for UVU.

The first set saw the Huskies go on a scoring run to take a comfortable five-point lead at 20-15. Sparked by a kill from Madison Dennison, the Wolverines came thundering back and ended on a 10-3 run to pull out the win in the first set.

The Wolverines held on to the momentum heading into the second set as they broke out of a 5-5 tie on an attack error by NIU and never looked back, winning the set by an eight-point margin.

On the verge of being swept, Northern Illinois responded in the third set and reeled off a 10-2 run to rise to an eight-point lead at 20-12. Utah Valley did not go quietly as they pulled to within one point at 24-23 after an attack error by NIU’s Taylor Krage. Northern Illinois won the set on the next play.

Both squads came out hot in the fourth set, trading points much of the way. The teams had battled to a 21-21 deadlock late in the set when Northern Illinois’ Meg Wolowicz recorded a kill to take the lead. The Huskies scored the next four points to take the win.

After an early 3-0 hole in the fifth set, the Wolverines were able to regroup as Izzie Hinton tied the score at 3-3. Led by four kills from Kiahna Vernon, UVU won the final set handily.

The Wolverines return home after a 1-2 record in Hawaii and will face off against Utah State Sept. 13 at the UCCU Center at 7 p.m. MT.