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UVU volleyball: Utah Valley closes Arizona Desert Classic with loss to Arizona

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 11:38 p.m. MDT

UVU junior libero McKenna Tait raises up a signal during a game. Tait was named to the Arizona Desert Classic All-Tournament Team for her play this weekend in Tucson, Ariz.

Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Utah Valley finished play at the Arizona Desert Classic on Saturday night with a three-set loss to host Arizona (17-25, 22-25, 15-25). The contest marked UVU's second match against a Pac-12 opponent on the young season.

"We came out and we battled and I liked our intensity going into this match," head coach Sam Atoa said. "Arizona is a very good team and they capitalized on our mistakes. We made several errors that kept us away from getting where we wanted it to be. We battled hard but we just could not sustain it throughout the match."

Senior middle blocker Katie Fritzler and junior libero McKenna Tait were named to the Arizona Desert Classic All-Tournament Team for the Wolverines (2-5). Fritzler picked up 10 kills, seven blocks and four digs on the weekend while Tait posted a team-high 32 digs, 12 assists and four aces.

"I thought that Katie played with a no-quit attitude. She drove it hard and worked hard. She is well deserving to be on the all-tournament team," Atoa said. "McKenna just does a great job for us on the back row. She has a knack of keeping balls alive for us and I'm very proud of both of them and for their efforts this weekend."

Arizona (5-1) used an 8-2 run midway in the first set to take command of the opener. The Wolverines pecked away at the deficit late with kills from Fritzler and junior Cassie Wahlin, but UA held its advantage as it took the first frame by eight points.

UVU then had its best chance of the night in the second set as it trailed by just two points following a kill from senior Brookelyn Hall at 18-16. The Wildcats responded by scoring the next four points to pull ahead at 22-16. Later facing set-point at 24-19, the Wolverines fought back with kills from sophomore Lauren Stringham and freshman Nakisha Willden and a block from Stringham and Hall to pull within 24-22, but UA put the set away on the very next point on a kill from Madi Kingdon.

The Wildcats then broke a 7-7 tie in the third set with a 6-0 run to take a 13-7 lead. Arizona maintained its lead the rest of the way and stretched it to as many as 10 late.

Hall led the Wolverines in the contest by posting her second double-double of the season with 22 assists and 10 digs. Freshman Macky Treanor topped the team in kills with six while Wahlin and Stringham added five apiece. Fritzler added four kills and a block, and Tait chipped in a team-high 12 digs.

Kingdon paced Arizona with a double-double of 13 kills and 10 digs.

The Wolverines also took on Butler earlier Saturday and fell in straight sets to the Bulldogs. Willden led UVU in that match with 14 kills. The Wolverines finished the Arizona Desert Classic with a 1-2 record as they defeated Eastern Kentucky 3-1 on Friday evening.

UVU will now return home to host its second tournament of the young season next weekend. The Wolverines will face Idaho State on Sept. 13, and UC Irvine and in-state foe Utah on Sept. 14.

Arizona Desert Classic All-Tournament Team

Madi Kingdon, Arizona (Tournament MVP)

Penina Snuka, Arizona

Olivia Magill, Arizona

Katie Fritzler, Utah Valley

McKenna Tait, Utah Valley

Morgan Peterson, Butler

Erica Stahl, Butler

Alexis Plagens, Eastern Kentucky

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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