TUCSON, Ariz. - The Utah Valley University women's volleyball team wrapped up its opening weekend of the 2012 season by falling to the University of Arizona in three sets (16-25, 15-25, 17-25) Saturday evening at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
The Wolverines (1-2) jumped out to a large lead early in the third set but the Pac-12 Wildcats (2-1) were too much as they managed to sweep UVU.
"Arizona played great and for what ever reason we just didn't," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "There were a number of areas of the game that we struggled with and one of them was our passing, it failed us tonight. But it is an area that we will hope to get better at."
Utah Valley junior and Arizona native Brookelyn Hall and true freshman Lauren Stringham were both named to the All-Tournament Team after Hall quarterbacked the Wolverines from the setter position all weekend long and Stringham played well in the middle.
"Brookelyn (Hall) kept after it and did a nice job for us (against Arizona). I was also really impressed with what Lauren (Stringham) did. In fact both of our middles, Katie (Fritzler) and Lauren, had great weekends," Atoa said. "We are doing some good things but we hope to keep building on the others so we can be better than we performed this weekend."
Two early kills from Stringham kept UVU in the first set early on but the Wildcats, who were recently selected to finish seventh in the Pac-12 Preseason Poll, scored five consecutive points to take an 11-5 lead. The Wolverines pulled within three, at 14-11, but Arizona was too much in the set as the team went on another rally and took the opener by nine points.
The Wildcats stayed hot early in the second set, as they quickly opened a 6-1 advantage. But the Wolverines immediately answered back with four straight points to make it a 6-5 contest. Later in the set Arizona managed to take the upper hand and by opening up a nine-point lead late, at 22-13. Late kills from Stringham and sophomore Jaramey Barney weren't enough for the Wolverines as the Wildcats took the second set, 25-15.
The third set was a different story in the beginning as UVU jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead after aces from Hall and freshman Bailey Farris and blocks and kills from Stringham, Farris and sophomore McKenna Tait. But back came Arizona, however, as they managed to take their first lead of the set at 15-14 thanks to a UVU attack error. The Wildcats continued their run from there as they scored eight straight points and built a six-point lead, at 20-14. Kills from Arizona's Taylor Arizobal, Madi Kingdon and Halli Amaro, who each finished with 11, 10 and eight kills respectively, down the stretch helped the Wildcats take the match in three sets. Stringham led UVU in the match with five kills (which included a .417 hitting percentage) and four block assists. Tait too tallied five kills apiece for the Wolverines, while Hall led the way in assists with 24.
The Wolverines will return to the state of Utah and will face their second straight Pac-12 foe when they take on Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. The contest will be UVU's first of five in-state matches on the season.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com