Photo by Maricel Evangelista
After a defeat at the hands of Weber State last time out, the UVU volleyball team returned home Friday night to host the No. 16-ranked Utah Utes of the Pac-12 in nonconference action. Despite winning the opening set, the Wolverines were unable to keep up as they ultimately fell to the Utes in four sets (25-19, 18-25, 16-25, 22-25).
Not to be intimidated by a nationally ranked opponent, the Wolverines came out strong in the opening set, scoring the first point of the match en route to building a six point lead. With the score sitting at 11-5 in favor of UVU, Utah’s Tawnee Luafalemana recorded a kill that initiated a Ute comeback bid and kicked off a 10-6 run. Clinging to a two point lead at 17-15, Kristen Allred recorded a huge kill to give the Wolverines a little breathing room. From that point UVU was able to muster an 8-4 run to closeout the set and win to take a 1-0 lead.
The second set was hotly contested, featuring 14 ties and eight lead changes. Trailing by one at 15-14, Lexi Thompson recorded back-to-back kills to give the Wolverines the lead. Utah then responded with a 6-1 run and the Utes began to pull away. Another Thompson kill cut the UVU deficit to four at 22-18, but the Utes were able to hold on for the win in the second set.
Utah came out strong to start the third set, reeling off six points in a row before Izzie Hinton scored to put UVU on the board. The Ute lead grew to eight at 11-3 before Thompson and Megan Boudreaux hammered back to back kills to close the gap. That’s as close as the Wolverines would get in this one however as the Utes would go on to win the set handily.
The Utes kept the momentum up in the fourth set as they came out firing, taking a 7-0 lead before committing an error to give UVU its first point. Trailing by nine at 13-4, Lexi Thompson recorded yet another kill and the Wolverines began to chip away at the deficit. UVU pulled to within one when Hinton delivered a huge block to make the score 16-15 in favor of the Utes. The Utah lead grew back to four before consecutive UVU scores reeled the Utes back in and made the score 22-20. Moments later Utah came up with a clutch block to secure the win in a nail biting fourth and final set.
Thompson again led Wolverine scorers with 15 kills while Allred and Madison Dennison added nine and eight, respectively.
With the loss the Wolverines fall to 5-9 on the season while Utah improves to 9-2.
Up next for UVU is a showdown with No. 14-ranked BYU at Lockhart Arena on Sep. 16 in its final nonconference match of the regular season. The Wolverines open conference play next week when they head to Washington to face Seattle University on Sep. 23.