OREM, Utah – The Utah Valley University volleyball team will host the 2012 Great West Conference Volleyball Tournament this weekend. The Wolverines have earned the No. 2 seed and will open play Friday at 5 p.m. against No. 3 Texas-Pan American in the semis.
UVU (16-8) won its second straight conference title Saturday as it earned a share of the regular season crown with Houston Baptist. Both the Wolverines and Huskies finished with identical 7-1 records, but HBU held the tiebreaker to take the top seed.
The tournament will take place in the PE Building and will run Friday and Saturday. Action will get underway Friday at 10 a.m. with No. 4 NJIT facing No. 5 Chicago State. The winner of that match will play top-seeded HBU that night at 7 p.m. The championship contest will then take place Saturday at 7 p.m. and will be televised locally on UVUTV and streamed live at www.uvu.edu/uvutv. It will also be rebroadcast next week nationally on Fox College Sports.
The Wolverines won a share of the conference title by picking up two crucial conference road victories last week. UVU topped NJIT in Newark, N.J., 3-1 last Thursday and then swept Chicago State in the Windy City on Saturday. Wolverine senior Erica Nish led the Wolverine attack in both matches as she finished with a match-high 14 kills against the Cougars and a team-high 12 versus the Highlanders. Nish was recognized by the conference for her outstanding play on Tuesday as she was named the GWC Offensive Player of the Week. Besides her 26 kills in the two matches, she also hit a solid .438 with 11 digs and five blocks.
Sophomore McKenna Tait too had a good week last week as she led the UVU back row with 24 digs in the two contests. She also set a new school record with eight service aces against CSU to propel her as the conference leader in the category.
For the season, Nish leads UVU in kills with 199 and a 2.43 kill per set average. Freshman Lauren Stringham is tops on the team in blocks with 132 (12 solos and 120 block assists) and is ranked first in the conference and 19th nationally with a 1.42 block per set average. Junior setter Brookelyn Hall leads the squad in assists with 879 and a 9.35 assist per set average. Hall has also tallied 12 double-doubles so far this season.
This weekend the Wolverines will be looking to win their first Great West Conference Tournament.
About UTPA: Texas-Pan American (10-18) finished the conference season with a 3-5 record, which tied them with NJIT for third place. But the Broncs held the tiebreaker to earn the three-seed for the tournament.
Michelle McNamee and Diara Reynolds lead UTPA in kills as they have 237 and 221, respectively. Reynolds averages 2.40 kills per set while McNamee averages 2.30. Sarah Davis leads the Broncs in blocks with 65 and a 0.78 block per set average.
The Wolverines lead the all-time series 20-1 over the Broncs. Utah Valley is also a perfect 11-0 all-time against UTPA in Orem.
Up Next for the Wolverines: UVU will close its regular season by taking on BYU in Provo on Nov. 20. First serve will be at 7 p.m., and the match will be televised nationally on BYUtv.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.