OREM - On the heels of winning the Air Force Invitational last weekend, the Utah Valley University volleyball team will begin its inaugural season of play in the Western Athletic Conference on Thursday at Idaho. The Wolverines will continue their conference-opening road trip Saturday at Seattle U and Monday at Texas-Pan American.
Thursday's WAC opener will begin at 8 p.m. MT at Idaho's Memorial Gym and will mark the first all-time meeting between the Wolverines and Vandals. Saturday's contest against the Redhawks will also begin at 8 p.m. MT, while Monday's match at former Great West Conference foe Texas-Pan American will start at 6 p.m. MT. Live video as well as live stats can be accessed for all three matches by visiting the volleyball schedule page.
The trio of conference matches away from the PE Building will close a seven-match road stretch for the Wolverines. After this weekend's WAC contests, UVU will have traveled just shy of 5,500 miles during the past two weeks.
The Wolverines are 6-8 on the season and are in the midst of a four-match winning streak after going undefeated so far on current the road trip. UVU began the trip with a sweep at in-state rival Weber State on Sept. 17 and followed it up with wins over UC Riverside (3-0), Wyoming (3-1) and host Air Force (3-2) at the Air Force Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo., last weekend.
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stringham led Utah Valley at the tournament last weekend as she recorded 32 kills (2.67 kill/set average) and 18 blocks (1.50 block/set average) while hitting .433. Senior setter Brookelyn Hall as well as fellow senior middle blocker Katie Fritzler too had big tournaments as Hall put up 106 assists (8.83 per set), 17 kills (1.42 per set), 16 digs (1.33 per set), nine blocks (0.75 per set) and three service aces, while Fritzler added 24 kills (2.00 per set), 10 blocks (0.83 per set) and hit .308.
On the season, freshman outside hitter Macky Treanor leads UVU in kills with 156 and ranks second in the WAC in kill per set average at 3.55. Hall and junior libero McKenna Tait lead Utah Valley in assists (9.33) and aces (0.37), respectively, as they each rank second in the WAC in those respective categories. Stringham leads the Wolverines at the net with 53 blocks on the season and a 1.06 block per set average. Her block average is also good enough for sixth in the conference.
Utah Valley was picked to finish third in its first season of play in the WAC after winning the Great West Conference in 2011 and 2012.
The Vandals are currently in second place in the WAC standings with a 7-5 overall record and will enter the match having won four of their last five contests. Idaho was picked to finish second in the preseason poll after it tied for second in the conference last year with a 13-5 league record.
Jessica Hastriter leads the Vandals in kills with 154 and a 3.28 kill per set average while Alyssa Schultz, the Preseason WAC Player of the Year, leads UI as well as the WAC in hitting at .405. Schultz also leads the squad in blocks with an average of 1.15 per set while setter Meredith Coba is tops with Idaho and the conference in assists (10.45).
Thursday's contest will mark Idaho's 2013 home opener.
About Seattle U
The Redhawks enter the weekend with a 3-12 overall record after playing 14 of their first 15 matches away from home. Seattle U has non-conference victories over Texas Tech, UC Riverside and Nevada on the season. SU was picked to finish fourth in the preseason conference poll after it went 4-14 in league action last season and 9-19 overall.
Iris Ivanis leads the Redhawks with 112 kills and a 2.43 kill per set average. Allison Farley is tops on SU in blocks with 38 (0.86 block/set average), while Kerry Lane leads the squad in assists with 344 (7.82 assist/set average).
UVU leads the all-time series 1-0 over the Redhawks after sweeping SU in Orem in 2008. Saturday will mark the first meeting between the two in Seattle.
About Texas-Pan American
The Broncs, who enter the weekend leading the WAC with a 10-6 overall record, are off to their second best start in program history this season. UTPA has wins over Nebraska-Omaha, Lamar, Jackson State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Prairie View A&M, McNeese State, Huston-Tillotson as well as two over Louisiana-Monroe so far this season. Texas-Pan American was picked to finish seventh in the WAC Preseason Poll.
Maria Kliefoth leads the Broncs this year in kills with 127 and a 2.31 kill per set average. Haley Durham is tops on the team in blocks with 56 (1.00 block/set average) while Nycole Masaki leads the way in assists with 503 (8.98 assist/set average).
The Broncs and Wolverines will renew their rivalry on Monday night when they'll meet up for the 23rd time in history. Utah Valley holds a near-perfect 21-1 all-time series advantage over its former Great West counterpart. UTPA's lone victory came in 2005 in Edinburg when it outlasted the Wolverines in five sets.
Up next for the Wolverines
UVU will return home to host its inaugural home WAC matches next week. The Wolverines will first welcome Kansas City to the PE Building on Thursday, Oct. 3, and former GWC foe Chicago State on Saturday, Oct. 5.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.