UVU volleyball: Wolverine women's volleyball sets out for the NCAA Tournament
Reigning GWC Freshman of the Year Lauren Stringham (Kaysville, Utah) will look to lead the Wolverines in the middle again during her sophomore season. Stringham, who was recently one of two Wolverines' selected Preseason All-WAC, set single-season school records for UVU last year in total blocks (148), block assists (136) and block per set average (1.45). She also finished second on the club in kills (181) and second in attack percentage (.299).
Also playing in the middle for UVU this season will be senior Katie Fritzler (Sterling, Colo.), who finished third on the team in blocks a year ago with 81; junior Jaramey Barney (St. George, Utah), who posted 16 blocks in 2012; and redshirt freshman Rachel Steele (Orem, Utah).
UVU's lone returning setter in 2013 is senior Brookelyn Hall (Gilbert, Ariz.). Hall was the other Wolverine to recently be named Preseason All-WAC and is two years removed from receiving Great West Conference Setter of the Year accolades. Hall is a three-time all-conference performer and averaged 9.42 assists per set a season ago. She also led UVU in attack percentage in 2012 (.344), finished second in blocks with 84, second in aces with 30 and third in digs with 225.
Junior Cassie Wahlin (Keller, Texas) will strive to earn the starting nod at right side after having an injury plagued sophomore season in 2012, but sophomore Kaysie Taylor (Orem, Utah) and the freshman Munk will also be vying to earn playing time at the position.
Second team all-conference selection Kalani Norris will look to lead UVU in kills in 2013 after she finished third on the team in that category in 2012 with 176. The junior from Panguitch, Utah, posted a .225 hitting percentage last season while averaging 2.44 kills per set. Also seeing the floor at outside hitter for Atoa will be true freshmen Macky Treanor (Salem, Utah) and Nakisha Willden (South Jordan, Utah). Fellow freshman Kiahna Steiner (Billings, Mont.), who Atoa says can also play middle blocker or right side, will also challenge for time on the court at this position.
Starting at libero for Atoa this season will be junior McKenna Tait (South Jordan, Utah). Tait began her sophomore campaign as an outside hitter for the Wolverines but moved back to libero midway through the season. Tait was named to the GWC All-Newcomer Team her freshman season and led UVU in aces (37) and digs a year ago (323).
Also in the back row for the Wolverines this season will be freshman Kat Biggs (Pleasant Grove, Utah) and the junior transfer Hardman.
Utah Valley will open the season this weekend at home by hosting the La Quinta Inn and Suites Invitational. UVU's first match will take place against Arizona State on Friday at 7 p.m. in the PE Building. The Wolverines will conclude the tournament with a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, as they will face North Dakota State at 12:30 p.m. and No. 24 Wichita State at 7 p.m. Both ASU and Wichita State played in the NCAA Tournament last season while NDSU appeared in it in 2010 and 2011.
"This is going to be a very tough opening tournament to start off with but we're thrilled that it's at home," Atoa said. "We've definitely got our hands full to play a quality opponent in ASU right from the beginning. Wichita State is another very good team that was in the NCAA Tournament last year and will be a tough opponent as will North Dakota State."
The Wolverines will then have a quick turnaround for their next match, as they'll welcome crosstown rival BYU to Orem on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The contest will mark the first time that the 13th-ranked Cougars have visited Orem since the 2010 season. BYU was also an NCAA Tournament team last season as it advanced to the third round.
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