Utah Valley wins their first game of their WAC tournament run against UT Arlington, winning their first game against them this season in a five-set thriller (25-15, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22, 15-10)
The start of this game could not have gone better for the Wolverines, who came out of the gate hot with excellent attacking and even better defending, with Kendra Nock being dominant on both ends and leading the way for the team to dominate these first couple of sets.
UVU cruised early with a raucous crowd behind them.
“I think it’s awesome, we can never take it for granted that we are at home, already in the last six years there has only been one team that has won when they hosted, and that’s us, and so we have to be able to protect our court,” acknowledged head coach Sam Atoa. UVU was clicking, finding their offense often behind their trio of Avery Shewell, Tori Ellis, and Hailey Cuff, who all had excellent games. Ellis especially was impressive, logging 15 kills and four blocks.
Due to this early success, UVU would cruise to victory easily in their first and second sets, winning by ten and nine points respectively.
Unfortunately trouble would strike in the third set, as the Wolverine offense would start to slow down and the UTA offense would start to find their footing behind Brianna Ford, who had a monster game ending with 20 kills. It seemed that every attacking opportunity was being capitalized on as UVU struggled with their own. Even so, Utah Valley would seem to match UT Arlington, with a couple service errors slowing down the otherwise efficient Maverick offense. Near the end of the third set UVU would give their last valiant effort, going on a 4-0 run to bring the score to within one, however it was not enough as UT Arlington would take their first set of the day 25-22.
UVU fell much in the same way in the third set, as disastrous mistakes would hamper UVU efforts, and bring the Wolverines one step closer to a devastating collapse. A 4-0 run in the middle of the fourth set would prove to be too much for the Wolverines to overcome as they would fall in a second straight set, 25-22.
This would lead to a do or die finale, with the Wolverines entire season hinging on one final 15 point set. “We went into that last set feeling like we had nothing to lose.” Said senior outside hitter Hailey Cuff. “We came out really strong in our first two sets and in the last one I felt like we just reverted back to that.”
The Wolverines would go on to play some of their best volleyball of the night, going on an absolutely pivotal 9-1 run to open the set, with Shewell, Ellis, and Charity Wilson playing excellent volleyball to give the Wolverines the boost they needed. As always Abby Medeiros was the rock that UVU needed, assisting on each of the Wolverines first five points in this final set. UVU would go on to close that set, and the game, with a score of 15-10.
The Wolverines will now move on to the second round of the WAC tournament, tomorrow they will face off against Steven F. Austin, who has not lost a game to a WAC opponent this year. This game will be broadcast of ESPN+.