BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Despite a season-high 13 kills from senior Erica Nish and 10 more from junior Lindsay Morrell the Utah Valley University volleyball team dropped a five-set battle at CSU Bakersfield Saturday night (25-22, 16-25, 26-24, 21-25, 10-15). The defeat marked UVU's (7-6) second loss in its last seven matches.
With the defeat the Wolverines finished the Roadrunner Classic with a 1-1 record as they swept Maryland-Eastern Shore on Friday.
"Bakersfield just wanted it more than we did at the end," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "There are areas of the game that we are not executing very well at. We need to be much better in being disciplined and showing consistency, and we're just not doing that right now."
In a close first set, UVU broke a 6-6 tie by scoring three straight points to take a 9-6 lead. The `Runners (6-7) came right back, however, and tied the frame up at 10-all. The set stayed tight the rest of the way as it saw 10 ties and four lead changes down the stretch.
With CSUB leading the opening frame 22-20, Utah Valley rallied and scored the next five points to take the first set. UVU was led down the stretch by an ace from Nish and kills from freshman Bailey Farris and junior Brookelyn Hall. Farris led the Wolverines in the set with four kills.
UVU kept the momentum early on in the second set and took a 5-2 advantage after a kill from Morrell. CSUB answered right back, however, by scoring four of the next five points to tie the score at 6-6. With the Wolverines later leading 14-13, the Roadrunners got hot as they scored five-straight points and 12 of the final 14 points to take the second set (25-16) and tie the contest at 1-1.
The `Runners kept playing well in the opening stages of the third set as they built a 10-5 lead. The home team later extended its advantage to nine points, at 16-7, after a block by Molly O'Hagan and Debora Araujo. The Wolverines later countered back and cut it to a three-point deficit, at 18-15, after they scored five unanswered points. Morrell led the rally with an ace and a kill.
A few points later in the third, UVU completed the comeback and tied the score at 19-all after a kill from sophomore Kalani Norris. The Wolverines then remained on the offensive as they took a two-point lead at 21-19 after a solo block from Nish. CSUB answered back and tied the score once again after two-straight points of its own (21-21). The set then saw three more ties down the stretch, but UVU eventually broke a 24-all tie with a kill from Morrell and a Roadrunner attack error to take a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard.
The fourth set remained close until CSUB built a four-point lead at 15-11 following an ace from Guitare. The Wolverines later pulled to within one (16-15) after a block assist from Nish and freshman Lauren Stringham, but a couple of points later the `Runners stretched their lead to three, at 19-16. UVU pulled to within one a couple more times, but CSUB regained its lead down the stretch and forced a decisive fifth set with a 25-21 fourth set victory.
The final set stayed close in the beginning, but CSU Bakersfield managed to take an 8-5 advantage after three-straight points. UVU scored the next point to cut it to 8-6, but the `Runners immediately struck back and rolled off four-consecutive points to take a commanding 12-6 advantage. With their backs against the wall down 14-7, the Wolverines pulled to within four (14-10) at match-point but CSUB managed to put the contest away the very next point on a kill from Araujo.
Besides Nish and Morrell's double-digit kill performances, Nish also added six blocks and three service aces. Stringham too had a solid outing with nine kills and and five block assists, while Hall dished out a team-high 42 assists. Junior Patti Hatch finished with a team-best 10 digs.
Hall and Stringham earned all-tournament team honors after Hall tallied 71 assists in the two matches during the weekend, 10 kills, a team-high .529 hitting percentage and six blocks, and Stringham recorded 16 kills, a .448 attack percentage and eight blocks.
CSUB, who outhit UVU .292-.182 and recorded four more team blocks than the Wolverines, was led in the contest by a double-double of 18 kills and 11 digs from Araujo.
Utah Valley and CSUB will face each other one more time this season when the `Runners come to Orem on Oct. 20. Despite the loss, UVU leads the all-time series 6-2 over CSUB.
The Wolverines will continue its 12-match month-long road stretch next Friday, Sept. 28, by heading to Las Vegas, Nev., to take on UNLV. Following the contest with the Rebels, UVU will begin its Great West Conference title defense when it travels to Edinburg, Texas, to face Texas-Pan American on Oct. 4.
Roadrunner Classic All-Tournament Team
MVP - Debora Araujo, CSU Bakersfield
Fernanda Goncalves, CSU Bakersfield
Brookelyn Hall, Utah Valley
Lauren Stringham, Utah Valley
Victoria Williams, UMES
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com