OREM - Fresh off its first road trip of the 2013 season, the Utah Valley University volleyball team returns home for three more as it hosts the Wolverine Classic on Friday and Saturday at the P.E. Building. The tournament field features Idaho State, UC Irvine and in-state rival Utah.
The Wolverines will face ISU at 7 p.m. on Friday, then UCI and Utah on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
Live video and live stats for the weekend's entirety are available free of charge. Live video can be found on UVU's website .
Utah Valley (2-5) returns to Orem after three matches at the Arizona Desert Classic last weekend. The Wolverines went 1-2 in Tucson, defeating Eastern Kentucky but falling to Butler and host Arizona.
Freshman Macky Treanor posted a match-high 21 kills against EKU, followed by 17 more from junior Kalani Norris. Sophomore Lauren Stringham added seven block assists, and senior Katie Fritzler notched five. The win snapped a three-game losing skid for the Wolverines and gave the Colonels their first loss of the young season.
UVU went down in straight sets to Butler, a member of the Big East Conference, and Arizona of the Pac-12. Freshman Nakisha Willden tallied a season-high 14 kills against the Bulldogs while Treanor's six led the way against the Wildcats.
After notching 10 kills, seven blocks and four digs on the weekend, Fritzler was named to the Arizona Desert Classic All-Tournament team, as was junior libero McKenna Tait who had a team-high 32 digs, 12 assists and four service aces.
For the season, Treanor leads the Wolverines and ranks second in the WAC with a 3.83 kill per set average. Norris is next at 3.14. Stringham's 1.09 blocks per set are good for the team lead while senior Brookelyn Hall continues to lead the squad in assists at 9.22 per set.
ISU enters the weekend at 5-3 and is coming off back-to-back straight-set wins over UC Riverside and Montana Western. All but one of the Bengals' eight matches - a 3-1 loss to South Dakota State in the opener - this season have been decided within the minimum three sets. ISU holds 3-0 victories over Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech, and 3-0 defeats at the hands of Missouri and New Mexico.
Sophomore outside hitter Tressa Lyman paces the Bengals at 4.12 kills per set - a figure that leads the Big Sky Conference - and is coming off a 14 kill performance against UMW. Junior Alydia Fields-Grimm is next with a 2.55 kills per set average.
Friday marks the 11th meeting all-time between the Wolverines and Bengals. UVU leads the series 6-4, but fell 3-0 in the most recent meeting on Sept. 24, 2011, in Pocatello.
With its five-match, season-opening win streak snapped last Saturday against Cleveland State, UCI (5-1) will look to get things back on track in the Beehive State this weekend. The Anteaters have yet to play at home, opening the season on a ten-match road trip. Still, they have found early season success, grabbing wins over the likes of Denver, Air Force and IPFW thus far.
UCI was picked to finish fifth in the Big West's preseason poll and currently has four players averaging 2.00 kills per set or greater this season. Senior Aly Squires, an all-Big West honorable mention selection last season, leads the way at 3.56, followed closely by Marisa Bubica's 3.00. A sophomore, Bubica appeared on the Big West's All-Freshman team in 2012. Junior Allison Lee holds a 2.60 mark in the early season and true freshman Cassidy Pickrell sits right a 2.00. The Anteaters also boast the Big West's top two players in blocks per set in senior Shannon Fleming (1.20) and junior Arielle Manz (1.16).
Utah Valley and UC Irvine have no previous meetings prior to Saturday's match. The Anteaters face BYU in Provo on Thursday prior to the start of the Wolverine Classic.
A perfect 7-0, Utah is just one win shy of matching the best start in program history - an 8-0 mark that belongs to the 2000 team. Most recently, the Utes swept its four matches at the North Texas tournament, taking care of Texas State, host North Texas, Prairie View A&M and Northwestern State.
With a 2.76 blocks per set average, Utah leads the Pac-12 in blocking in the early season. Powering that defensive effort is junior middle blocker Bailey Bateman whose 1.52 blocks per set also tops the conference. Junior Shelby Dalton leads the team in kills at 3.08 per set followed by junior Chelsey Schofield's 2.48.
Utah Valley has met Utah nine times before and is just 1-8 against the Utes. That lone win came in the 2009 season - the last time the two schools met in Orem - when the Wolverines topped a 17th ranked Utah squad, 3-1. The Utes swept last season's meeting in Salt Lake City, 3-0.
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UVU embarks on its longest road trip of the season following the Wolverine Classic - a seven-match that sees the Wolverines to five different states. A stop in Ogden to face Weber State next Tuesday precedes an appearance at the Air Force Invitational. That three-match tournament will see UVU face UC Riverside, Wyoming and host Air Force. From there, Utah Valley begins its first season of WAC play with three straight road contests at Idaho, Seattle University and Texas-Pan American.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.