UVU volleyball: Utah Valley sweeps NM State, leapfrogs Aggies in WAC standings
Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics
OREM — Utah Valley University grabbed its seventh WAC win with a sweep of New Mexico State (25-16, 25-23, 25-18) on Saturday night at the PE Building. The Wolverines got a career-high 13 kills from outside hitter Cassie Wahlin, while Lauren Stringham posted seven block assists.
Saturday's result marked the eighth sweep of the season for Utah Valley (13-11, 7-2 WAC) and its fourth consecutive win by straight sets. The Wolverines opened up their current five-match home stand with a 3-0 WAC victory over Texas-Pan American on Thursday night.
Junior Wahlin's match-high 13 kills set a new career mark, while Stringham finished one kill short of double digits at nine. From there, Katie Fritzler and Kalani Norris added seven kills apiece, while Brookelyn Hall led both squads with 33 assists.
UVU opened the match with a 25-16 win in set one, a frame in which it never trailed but was never quite comfortable. The Wolverines held NM State (11-10, 6-2 WAC) at a three-point cushion for the majority of the set but finally broke things open in the latter portions with a big run. Holding onto a 16-14 lead, the Wolverines scored nine of the next 11 points as Wahlin delivered four of her set-high six kills to power the decisive rally.
Having dropped set one, NM State shot out of the gates in the second set. An early 9-1 run pushed the Aggies to their largest lead at 12-6. Still, the Wolverines kept themselves within striking distance, climbing all the way back to within one at 17-16. The steady comeback was punctuated by a 5-1 UVU run that featured two kills and a big block assist from Norris.
The set remained tight into the final points, as the two teams battled to a 23-all tie late. But it was Utah Valley coming away with the final tallies, using a Stringham kill and an Aggie attack error to settle a 25-23 second set victory.
NM State took a 1-0 lead to begin set three, but it was all UVU from there as the Wolverines completed the sweep with a 25-18 win. The Wolverines created some breathing room early on, jumping out to an 8-4 advantage following back-to-back kills from Norris and Fritzler. The lead dipped below three points just once for the remainder of the set, and the Wolverines punctuated the straight-set victory with a 5-1 spurt to close the match. Kills from Nakisha Willden and Hall preceded consecutive service aces from Wahlin as the Wolverines won their fourth straight home match.
Lauren Loerch was the lone Aggie to reach double figures in kills, posting 10 to go along with 10 digs. Taylor Livoti and Aleisha Coates handed out 16 and 14 assists, respectively.
Utah Valley continues its five-match home stand next weekend as the Wolverines begin their second pass through the double round robin WAC schedule. UVU hosts Idaho on Friday night before welcoming Seattle University on Saturday. Both matches are slated for 7 p.m. start times. The Wolverines topped Idaho, 3-2, in Moscow back in September but fell to SU by the same count two nights later.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.