Volleyball: UVU drops conference opener

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Photo by Lesley Robles, photographer at The Rider

EDINBERG, Texas–The Utah Valley University volleyball team dropped its conference opener 3-1 on the road against the Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (24-26, 18-25, 25-17, 23-25). Thursday’s game marked the first time UVU has lost a conference opener since joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.

With the win UTRGV improves to 10-5 and 1-0 in conference play, meanwhile the loss drops UVU to 4-10 and 0-1 in the WAC.

Utah Valley hung with the Vaqueros from the start, as it fell just 26-24 in the opening set. After falling behind 16-12, the Wolverines reeled off three straight points to get back into it, capped off by a kill from middle blocker Brighton Taylor. The team just could not quite keep it together for an opening-set victory.

Leading 15-13 in the second set, it looked promising for the Wolverines. However, Rio Grande Valley then went on a 12-3 run and won the set. The run was engineered by a number of kills by Alisha Watson and was ultimately too much for UVU to handle, as it dropped set number two by a score of 25-18.

The third set was a different story for the Wolverines, who came out with a sense of urgency and never looked back. Leading 20-17, UVU finished off UT Rio Grande Valley with five straight points, four of which were attack errors committed by the Vaqueros. It seemed as though the Wolverines were hitting their stride.

The fourth set was all Rio Grande Valley early, as they went up 9-4. UVU then mounted another comeback to tie the score at 12 apiece. The two teams traded points to another tie at 22 each. However, an attack error by the Wolverines then allowed the Vaqueros to finish the game off in just four sets.

The Wolverines were once again led by Preseason All-WAC middle blocker Madison Dennison, who finished the match with 12 kills. The Vaqueros were paced by Bojana Mitrovic who posted 17 kills.

Up next for the Wolverines will be another road game against the defending conference champion New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT.