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UVU volleyball: Wolverines welcome Chicago State and CSU Bakersfield

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18 2012 12:04 p.m. MDT

UVU celebrates after defeating NJIT last Saturday in Orem.

UVU Athletics

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OREM — The Utah Valley University volleyball team continues its five-match homestand with a pair of matches over the weekend. UVU will host Chicago State in a Great West Conference match Friday at 7 p.m., then welcome future WAC opponent CSU Bakersfield to the PE Building Saturday at 6 p.m.

UVU will also host a neutral match Saturday at 1 p.m. between the CSU Cougars and CSUB Roadrunners. Live stats and live video will be available for all three matches this weekend by visiting the UVU website.

The Wolverines (11-7, 3-0 GWC) pushed their current win streak to four games with a pair of victories last week. UVU grabbed a 3-2 win at in-state rival Utah State on Tuesday before returning home to defeat NJIT 3-2 on Saturday.

Five Wolverines topped double digit kills against the Aggies, including a team-high 15 from sophomore outside hitter Kalani Norris, as UVU rallied from two sets down to steal the win.

Five more sets were needed Saturday against the Highlanders as the Wolverines responded from a fourth-set loss with a big fifth-set win. Norris put up a team-high 21 kills in that match, giving her 36 for the week – enough to earn this week's recognition as GWC Offensive Player of the Week.

Freshman middle blocker Lauren Stringham was given the Defensive POW award after notching 12 kills and seven block assists against USU, as well as 12 kills and nine block assists against NJIT. UVU has now swept the GWC weekly awards twice this season, as Stringham and junior setter Brookelyn Hall claimed the honors on Aug. 27.

The Wolverines have seen the bulk of its attack come from the middle this season, as middle blockers Stringham and senior Erica Nish pace the squad with 136 and 131 kills, respectively. Sophomore McKenna Tait is next in kills with 106 followed by 97 from junior Lindsay Morrell.

Despite sitting fifth on the team in total kills, Norris is tops in kills per set at a 2.16 clip. Stringham also leads UVU in total blocks, notching 99 thus far in 2012. Leading-assist getter Hall has distributed 672 assists at a 9.21 assists/set pace this season.

The Wolverines will be looking to extend a 14-match home win streak, dating back to last season.

About Chicago State: Chicago State (2-21, 0-4) enters the weekend at the bottom of the league standings. The Cougars have just two wins on the season, defeating North Carolina A&T and Coppin State.

CSU was in the Lone Star State last weekend for a pair of conference matches with Houston Baptist and Texas-Pan American. Following a sweep at the hands of the Huskies, the Cougars hung tight with UTPA, dropping a hard fought 3-2 loss.

Senior middle blocker Sydne Van Munster put up 18 kills in the loss to the Broncs, and sophomore Valeria Desiderio chipped in 14 more.

Van Munster leads CSU in kills with 141 (2.27/set) and blocks with 46. Second in kills is freshman middle Alyssa Podwell with 129. Sophomore setter Angelica Brewer and junior setter Paula Sioto are one-two in assists, recording 319 and 302, respectively, this season.

UVU has never lost to Chicago State, holding a 10-0 record in the all-time series.

About CSU Bakersfield: CSUB is 10-10 on the year operating as a Division I Independent. The Roadrunners picked up a pair of victories last weekend, winning back-to-back matches at Alabama State (3-0, 3-1).

Junior outside hitter Debora Araujo leads the Roadrunner attack, recording 315 kills this season – good for a 4.20 kill per set average. Freshman Kelsee Sawyer is next in kills at 175.

Julia Bowen, a junior middle blocker, paces CSUB in blocks, coming up with 64 stuffs on the season. Junior setter Fernanda Goncalves has 760 assists this year, an average of 10.13 per set.

Saturday marks the final time UVU and CSUB will meet as non-conference opponents, as both schools announced last Tuesday their acceptance into the WAC beginning next season.

The Wolverines hold a 6-2 series lead, but the Roadrunners hold the most recent advantage as they defeated UVU 3-2 on Sept. 22.

CSUB will visit Fresno State on Thursday, then play a neutral site match with Chicago State in Orem on Saturday afternoon before taking the court to face the Wolverines that night.

Up Next for the Wolverines: UVU closes out its brief, five-match homestand next week as it welcomes the GWC's Texas contingent to the PE Building. Thursday's match with Houston Baptist begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday's meeting with UTPA starts at 1 p.m.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.

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