Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics
Devin Olsen & Mark Wait, Sports Writers
OREM—The Utah Valley University volleyball team swept the Wolverine Invitational this weekend, coming away victorious in all three matches. Kiahna Vernon was named the most valuable player of the tournament recording an impressive 43 kills. Sierra Starley and Nakisha Willden were named to the Wolverine Invitational All-Tournament Team following their stellar performances throughout.
Falling behind early in their opening match against the North Texas Mean Green Friday, UVU managed to turn things around quickly, then pulled off a thrilling five-set (14-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-23, 15-12) victory over the Mean Green.
The Wolverines were led by preseason All-WAC middle blocker Madison Dennison, who finished with a career-high 15 kills. The win marked the Wolverines’ first of the season and proved to be a confidence boost for the team as they headed into Saturday’s matches.
UVU continued their winning ways as they swept in-state foe Southern Utah (25-20, 26-24, 25-19) on Saturday. With a great overall team effort, the Wolverines dominated every major statistical category, including 41 kills.
The team took the court against the San José State Spartans Saturday night in the final game of the Wolverine Invitational. The Wolverines found their groove as they handled the Spartans in four sets (25-23, 18-25, 25-19, 25-21) to wrap up a perfect record in the tournament.
“It was great for our girls to be able to respond from the challenging first four matches that we had and to be able to just take ownership of what we did here,” said UVU head coach Sam Atoa. “I couldn’t be happier for them; it was just great.”
UVU edged out SJSU in a tightly contested first set that saw both teams go on extended runs. The second set wasn’t as close with the Spartans jumping out to a big lead as the Wolverines seemed slightly out of rhythm. UVU was able to regroup and responded with two convincing wins to close out the game and win the tournament on their home floor.
Vernon led the charge for the Wolverines with 15 kills in the game and Dennison added 10 of her own. Starley also showed up in a big way contributing 36 assists to help her team win.
Next up for UVU is the Hawaii Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge in Manoa, Hawaii. The Wolverines will have their work cut out for them as they will face No. 15 Hawaii on Sept. 8, No. 5 Washington on Sept. 9 and Northern Illinois on Sept. 10.