BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Senior Erica Nish led the way for Utah Valley University Friday afternoon as the Wolverines (7-5) swept Maryland-Eastern Shore (25-19, 25-22, 25-21) in their opener of the Roadrunner Classic in Bakersfield, Calif.
Nish recorded a team-high nine kills, a .571 attack percentage, two aces and two blocks. UVU junior Brookelyn Hall and freshman Lauren Stringham finished right behind her with seven kills apiece. Hall also added three blocks and a match-high 29 assists, while Stringham recorded three blocks of her own. Bakersfield-native and UVU sophomore Erin Jolley led the Wolverine back row in the match with eight digs.
"We played pretty well but I wish that we had a better flow to the game," Wolverine coach Sam Atoa said. "Everybody had an opportunity to be able to get in and contribute but we're still working on a few things. We executed better in some areas and we're hoping to just keep improving."
Leading 14-11 midway through the opening set, the Wolverines went on a 5-0 run to take a commanding 19-11 advantage. Hall, freshman Bailey Farris and junior Lindsay Morrell all drilled home kills during the rally. The Hawks (14-3) cut the eight-point deficit in half (22-18), but a couple of points later UVU put the first set away on a kill from Nish.
The second set seesawed back-and-forth in the early stages, but the Wolverines took a three-point lead (14-11) after consecutive kills from Morrell and Stringham. UVU later extended its lead to 21-15 after an ace from Nish. With Utah Valley later leading 24-19, UMES scored three straight points to make it a 24-22 score but Hall helped the Wolverines take a 2-0 lead with a kill on the next point.
With UVU up just a point (6-5) in the early stages of the third set, the Wolverines managed to double-up the Hawks, at 10-5, after two kills from Stringham and an ace from Farris. The Wolverines later extended their lead to eight (20-12) in the third set after consecutive kills from sophomore Jaramey Barney and Farris. The Hawks once again tried to recover as they pulled within three, at 22-19, but sophomore McKenna Tait helped UVU complete the sweep with the final kill over the 2011 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champs and NCAA Tournament qualifiers.
The Wolverines outhit UMES .284-.152 for the match. UVU also committed five less attack errors and had five more service aces than the Hawks.
Despite the loss, Victoria Williams led UMES with a match-high 12 kills.
The Wolverines will conclude the tournament Saturday by taking on host CSU Bakersfield at 8 p.m. MT. UVU holds a 6-1 all-time record against the Roadrunners.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com