UVU volleyball: Wolverines sweep past UTPA and into Saturday's championship

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Nov. 16 2012 9:32 p.m. MST

Patti Hatch (left) and McKenna Tait (right) react to a UVU point Friday at the PE Building.

Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics

OREM, Utah - The Utah Valley University volleyball team swept its way into its second consecutive Great West Conference Tournament match, topping Texas-Pan American 3-0 (25-12, 25-20, 25-17) Friday evening at the PE Building.

The Wolverines (17-8), GWC regular season co-champions, will return to the PE Building at 7 p.m. Saturday, gunning for their first-ever tournament title.

"It was a great match for us and I thought we executed very well," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "In tournaments like this momentum is huge and I'm very pleased with what we did this evening to prepare ourselves for tomorrow."

UVU benefited from a complete team effort as it cruised past UTPA (10-19).

Erica Nish and Kalani Norris led the Wolverines with nine kills each, while Brookelyn Hall, Lindsay Morrell and GWC Newcomer of the Year Lauren Stringham all added six.

Hall also finished with a game-high 33 assists.

UVU shot from the gate in set one, delivering kills on five of its first six swings to take an 8-3 advantage. Nish accounted for a pair of those kills, while Hall and Stringham added two blocks each. The Wolverines never looked back from there, leading by as many 10 on their way to a 25-12 win to open the match. With runs of 5-1, 6-1 and 6-0, UVU kept its distance from UTPA and never trailed in the opening set.

Norris put up five kills in the frame with an outstanding .625 attack percentage, helping the Wolverines outhit the Broncs .333 to .000. Hall and Nish added three kills each, with the former dishing out 10 assists.

In set two, UVU found itself in a 12-12 deadlock before reeling off seven of the next eight points to establish its largest lead of the frame at 19-13. Hall and Katie Fritzler helped propel the rally, combining for a big block for one poin to before joining forces again on the next with an assist and kill.

UTPA battled back, getting to within two at 19-17 after a 4-0 spurt. Still, it was the Wolverines remaining steady to the end, riding kills from Morrell, Fritzler, Nish and Hall on their way to a 25-20 game-two victory.

Norris dropped in an ace to breakup a 7-7 tie early in set three and was followed by a kill and block assist from Nish. Morrell added a kill and combined with Fritzler for a block before giving way to another Nish kill to make the UVU advantage 13-8.

Having established a cushion on the scoreboard, the Wolverines wasted little time securing the final set. A 5-1 run, highlighted by three kills from Stringham, pushed the lead to 18-10 and UVU had few issues closing from there.

Aces from Hall and freshman Bailey Farris alongside kills from Fritzler, Morrell and Stringham lifted the Wolverines to the finish line - a 25-17 third-set win to complete the sweep.

UVU now advances to Saturday's GWC Tournament championship match. The Wolverines, who fell to North Dakota in last year's final, will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal between top-seed Houston Baptist and No. 4 NJIT.

Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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