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UVU volleyball: Wolverines close home slate with two key conference matches

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 8:20 p.m. MDT

Orem, Utah - The Utah Valley University volleyball team puts its six-match winning streak and its 16-match home winning streak on the line this weekend as it hosts Houston Baptist and Texas-Pan American. The Wolverines take to the PE Building to face HBU Thursday at 7 p.m., then welcome UTPA Saturday at 1 p.m.

Thursday's contest will be televised live locally on UVUTV (Comcast Ch. 17) and will be rebroadcast nationally on Fox College Sports on Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. MT. Live stats and live video of Thursday and Saturday's matches will also be available by visiting www.WolverineGreen.com. Thursday night is UVU's annual Pink For a Purpose match with proceeds being raised for the Lori Richards Memorial Scholarship Fund. Richards was the former UVU women's volleyball coach for 18 years and passed away earlier this year from cancer. Saturday's contest will be Senior Day as lone senior middle blocker Erica Nish will be honored prior to the match against the Broncs.

The two Great West Conference contests will be crucial ones for the Wolverines (13-7, 4-0 GWC) as UVU will have the opportunity to clinch the conference title and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament by winning both matches week. The Wolverines are currently in first place in the Great West standing with the unblemished 4-0 recor, while HBU is in second (4-1) and UTPA is third (2-2).

The Wolverines defeated the Huskies and Broncs in Texas a couple weeks ago as UVU managed to come from behind in both matches to win each in five sets.

Last week the Wolverines continued their winning ways by defeating GWC opponent Chicago State and in three sets and future WAC foe CSU Bakersfield in four. Sophomore outside hitter Kalani Norris led UVU offensively in the two matches as she recorded 24 kills, a 3.43 kill per set average and a .367 hitting percentage last week. Junior outside hitter/middle blocker Katie Fritzler too had a big week for the Wolverines as she put up 11 blocks, a 1.83 block per set average and 11 kills versus the Cougars and Roadrunners.

For the season Nish and freshman middle blocker Lauren Stringham lead UVU in kills as they each have 147. Stringham is also tops on the team in blocks with 112 (11 solos and 101 block assists) and is ranked first in the conference and 26th nationally with a 1.40 block per set average. Junior setter Brookelyn Hall leads the Wolverines in assists and aces with 740 and 28, respectively, and is second in the conference in assists per set (9.25).

About Houston Baptist: The Huskies are 16-10 overall, 4-1 in conference play and have won four consecutive matches. Their lone loss in GWC play was to UVU in Houston on Oct. 6. HBU held a 2-1 lead in that match entering the fourth se, but the Wolverines rallied to take the contest in five. Norris and junior Lindsay Morrell led UVU with 16 kills apiece while Caiti Wenger had 18 kills for HBU and Heather Leaverton added 17.

Leaverton leads the Huskies and the conference in kills with 282 and a 3.17 kill per set average. Maddeline Gaffney leads HBU in blocks with 72 (12 solos and 60 block assists) and a 0.81 block per set average.

The Wolverines lead the all-time series 8-1 over HBU and Thursday will mark the 10th all-time meeting between the two clubs and UVU is a perfect 4-0 in Orem.

About Texas-Pan American: UTPA is 9-14 overall and 2-2 in conference play. The Broncs are coming off of 3-0 loss to HBU last week and have dropped their last two matches.

Michelle McNamee and Diara Reynolds lead Texas-Pan American in kills with 191 and 174 respectively. Reynolds is also tops on the team in kill per set average with a 2.38 clip. At the net the Broncs are led by Haley Durham and her 51 blocks (12 solos and 39 block assists).

All-time the Wolverines command the series 19-1. UVU is also a perfect 10-0 against the Broncs in Orem.

Up Next for the Wolverines: UVU will have a week off before closing out its conference season by facing NJIT on Nov. 8 and Chicago State on Nov. 10 on the road. The Wolverines will then host the Great West Tournament Nov. 16-17 at the PE Building in Orem.

Promotions: Pink For a Purpose Match - Thursday vs. HBU. The first 300 fans in attendance will receive a free Pink For a Purpose t-shirt sponsored by the Utah Army National Guard.

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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