OREM, Utah — Despite taking the first set over the No. 25 BYU Cougars, Utah Valley fell in four sets in front of a near-capacity crowd of 1,985 fans at the PE Building in Orem on Tuesday night (26-24, 22-25, 8-25, 11-25).
"It was a tale of two stories. Everything we needed to do we did well in those first two sets. But BYU took us out of our rhythm and it became a mental challenge for us," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "We didn't pass the ball as well and we didn't serve the ball as well. We just didn't do the things we did well early on and they (BYU) really stepped it up. You've got to give them credit for being able to stick with it. They were the better team tonight."
The Wolverines (1-3) got off to a hot start in the early stages of the opening set as they erupted out to a quick 9-4 lead over the nationally ranked Cougars (2-2). Junior Kalani Norris led the spurt for UVU by pounding home four quick kills. BYU battled right back from there, however, as it managed to tie the score at 13-all. After a trio of ties, UVU pulled ahead once again at 18-15, but back came the Cougars as they took their first lead of the set at 21-20.
BYU pulled ahead late at 23-21, but Utah Valley rallied from there and scored five of the final six points to take its first set over the Cougars since the 2009 season. Norris led the Wolverine attack with 10 first-set kills and a .588 attack percentage. As a team, the Wolverines also outhit the Cougars .312 to .208 in the frame.
A 6-0 run by Brigham Young in the second set broke an 8-8 tie and gave the Cougars a 14-8 advantage. UVU cut the deficit in half at 14-11, after consecutive kills from Norris, senior Katie Fritzler and freshman Macky Treanor.
BYU pulled out to a late seven-point lead (22-15) in the second, set but the Wolverines answered with a 5-0 spurt to pull within two (22-20). The Cougars later held a set-point advantage at 24-20, but UVU wouldn't go away as consecutive kills from Fritzler and Norris kept the Wolverines in the game until a wild final rally went to the Cougars as they took the second set by three points.
Following the intermission break, the momentum stayed with BYU as it jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the third set. The Cougars didn't look back from there in the frame as they took the set by 17 points.
The Wolverines bounced back early on in the fourth set as they remained right with Brigham Young, but a 5-0 run by the Cougars helped the visitors take a 13-7 lead. BYU put the match away later in the set by scoring 11 of the final 13 points.
Norris led the Wolverines in the contest with 19 kills and nine digs. Treanor, who became UVU's first-ever WAC Player of the Week on Monday, added eight kills while Fritzler chipped in five kills and five blocks.
Tambre Haddock led the Cougars by posting a double-double of 18 kills and 14 digs. Alexa Gray and Kathryn LeCheminant too topped double figures in kills with 15 and 12, respectively.
The contest marked UVU's second straight match against a ranked opponent as it took on No. 24 Wichita State last Saturday.
The Wolverines will now hit the road for the first time in 2013 to play at the Arizona Desert Classic this weekend. UVU will face Eastern Kentucky on Friday at 5:30 p.m. MT, Butler on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT and the host Wildcats on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. MT while in Tucson.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.