Photo by Mykah Heaton
OREM, Utah—After blowing a commanding two-set lead, the Utah Valley University volleyball team put away UT Rio Grande Valley in five sets (25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 15-25, 15-10) Saturday afternoon. After she had already tallied three kills in the fifth set, Bojana Mitrovic was denied a fourth by Sierra Starley and Madison Dennison’s block at the net to end the match.
“I was real proud of the girls, especially when that fourth set was just a tough challenge,” said UVU head coach Sam Atoa. “We’ve been in situations like that before in other places where we kind of got beat up a little bit, but we’ve been able to respond and so it was great to have some of these experiences for us to be able to know that yes, it was little difficult in that fourth set.”
With the win, UVU takes over sole possession of second place in the Western Athletic Conference.
UVU fell behind early in all five sets, but clawed its way back to an early two sets to none lead. In a 5-3 hole after a service error by Kelcee Munk, the Wolverines strung together a 6-1 run for a 9-6 lead capped by a kill by Kiahna Vernon. The set was closed out by another kill by Vernon off an assist by Starley.
After trailing by as many as six in the second set, UVU rallied again and took a 15-14 lead on an ace by Lexi Thompson. Vernon, Dennison and Thompson all notched kills as UVU outscored UTRGV 10-5 to close out the frame, but it was Starley who shut the door with a kill of her own.
UVU had an opportunity to close out UTRGV in the third set, but back-to-back kills by Ragni Knudsen gave the Vaqueros a 25-23 win to force a fourth.
UTRGV controlled momentum from start to finish in the fourth set with responses to every attempt UVU put over the net. Knudsen extended the Vaqueros’ lead to 15-5 and the set was out of reach. Knudsen closed the set with her third kill of the frame.
The fifth set started with yet another kill by Knudsen, and UTRGV jumped out to an 8-6 lead. After the teams switched sides, UVU took over the frame and tied it at eight with a kill by Kelcee Munk, which sparked a 7-2 run that punctuated the match with Starley and Dennison’s block.
The Wolverines head on the road and face the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos Thursday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. MT in Kansas City, Missouri. UVU defeated UMKC three sets to two at home Oct. 1.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.