Wolverines claim first WAC win, take down Chicago State 3-1

#9 Kazna Tanuvasa helped lead UVU to their first win in conference play (Photo courtesy of UVU athletics)

The Utah Valley Wolverines women’s volleyball team defeated the Chicago St. Cougars 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17) to secure their first win of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play on Sept. 30 at the Jones Convocation Center in Chicago. 

This was a notable triumph for the Wolverines, who were looking to secure their first WAC win of the season — after suffering back-to-back losses to New Mexico State University and Grand Canyon University. 

The team was led by senior Kazna Tanuvasa, who had 18 kills. This was her second consecutive game in which she tallied at least 15 kills putting her at 194 kills on the season. Tanuvasa also tallied four aces which set a new career high for her. Redshirt senior Kristen Bell was also a key contributor in the victory, as she ended the match with 18 digs, 9 kills, and two blocks. Blocks once again came up key in the Wolverines’ victory. UVU is currently ranked 18th in the country in blocks per set and it showed as they were plus 3 in the block column in the match. Jules Fink, Abbie Miller and Bryton Bishop all played as key factors to the win as well.

The first set was all about runs for the Wolverines. Chicago State jumped on top early in the first set as they went ahead 4-2 to open the match. The Wolverines responded with a 5-1 run to take their first lead of the match. The teams continued to battle back and forth up to an 11-11 tie. The Wolverines then went on two separate 5-0 runs interrupted by Chicago State individual points to go ahead 21-13. That was enough to cruise to a 25-18 set win capped off by an emphatic kill by Jules Fink and put UVU up 1-0 in the match.

The Wolverines began the second set right where they left off as they captured a 4-2 lead. Chicago State, led by Yanlis Feliz who had 20 kills in the match, then roared back on a run of their own to take a 10-6 lead. The Wolverines chipped away at the deficit, eventually taking the lead thanks to great play from Fink and Bell and found themselves up 23-21. The Cougars then got hot and closed UVU out on a 4-0 run with Feliz scoring the final point. 

The third set would follow the steady back and forth theme of the match. With momentum still up in the air at a 10-10 tie the Wolverines went on a clutch 6-3 run, seized the momentum, and never looked back. Led by Tanuvasa, UVU took the third set 25-19. They kept that momentum through the beginning of the fourth set and led 9-4 when a timeout was called by the Cougars. The Cougars regrouped during the timeout and scored two straight points which cut the lead and shifted the tide  for a moment before UVU took a commanding 15-7 lead. The two teams then exchanged points, scoring 10 points a piece, but the Wolverines were able to deter a comeback run. The Wolverines took the set and match and that was all she wrote. 

This Wolverine win moves the all-time series between the two teams to 28-2 — in Utah Valley’s favor. UVU will look to ride this momentum as they travel to take on Seattle University in another WAC matchup on Thursday, Oct. 7. The match will be streamed on ESPN+ and will start at 7 p.m. MST. 

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