MORAGA, Calif. — Utah Valley kept the score close in the second and third sets against Big 12 Conference member Kansas State Friday evening at the Saint Mary's Tournament in Moraga, Calif., but in the end the Wildcats (10-3) were too much as they pulled away with the 3-0 win (14-25, 20-25, 16-25).
"Kansas State executed and played very, very well," Wolverine head coach Sam Atoa said. "I felt like the girls worked hard and gave themselves some opportunities, but we just weren't the better team."
Mistakes plagued the Wolverines (8-5) early in the opening set. The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 14-2 lead. UVU later cut the deficit to single digits at 16-7 after consecutive Wildcat attack errors.
From there Kansas State maintained its lead though and took the set by 11 points. Chelsey Heaps led the Wolverines with three kills in the set.
Following a Jaicee Kuresa kill in the second set the Wolverines tied the score against the Wildcats at 4-4l. K-State later worked a five-point advantage at 14-9 but UVU came right back by scoring three straight to points to trail by just two at 14-12.
After kills by Sarah Clement and Erica Nish the Wolverines stayed within two points at 18-16, but Kansas State answered with two points to go ahead 20-16. Clement and Brookelyn Campbell came up with a late block for UVU, but K-State put the set away at 25-20 on the next point.
UVU got off to a good start in the third set as it opened up an early 4-1 lead after a Heaps kill. The Wolverines held their three-point lead at 8-5 after a Nish and Kalani Norris block assist. K-State then came back and took its first lead of the set at 11-10 after a Kathleen Ludwig kill.
With the Wildcats still up just a point at 16-15, Kansas State began a 7-0 run that put the Wildcats ahead 23-15 and put the match away. Nish stopped the Wildcat rally with a late kill but K-State took the set by nine points.
Despite the loss the Wolverines played well defensively as they finished with nine team blocks and 47 digs.
Clement led the Wolverines at the net with four block assists, a block solo and five kills, while McKenna Tait topped the team in digs with a match-high 14. Offensively Heaps led UVU in the match with seven kills. She also tallied seven digs and three block assists.
KSU was led by Kaitlynn Pelger who finished with a double-double of 11 kills and 11 digs.
The Wolverines will now look forward to Saturday evening when they conclude their play at the Saint Mary's Tournament with a match against Sacramento State at 5 p.m.
"They will be another challenge for us," Atoa added. "We hope to be able to learn from the night before and come out and play with confidence. It's going to be a battle for us because we definitely want to get back on track and I expect us to do that."
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