UVU volleyball: Utah Valley sweeps Seattle U, moves into sole possession of second place
OREM — Senior setter Brookelyn Hall became the second player in Utah Valley University history to surpass 4,000 career assists Saturday night as the Wolverines swept Seattle University (25-19, 25-23, 25-9) in Western Athletic Conference action at the PE Building. With the victory, UVU moves into sole possession of second place in the WAC with an 8-3 conference record.
Utah Valley (14-12) not only bounced back nicely in the match after suffering a tough five-set loss to Idaho at home Thursday, but it also revoked a little revenge against Seattle U (10-16, 7-4 WAC) after it previously fell to the Redhawks in five sets in the Emerald City a month ago.
Freshman Nakisha Willden led UVU on the night with 12 kills, while junior Cassie Wahlin added 10 of her own as well as chipping in four blocks and a career-best four aces. Hall paced both squads in assists with 31, while also adding eight digs and seven blocks. Sophomore Lauren Stringham and senior Katie Fritzler too played well at the net for the Wolverines as they recorded eight and six blocks, respectively.
As a team, UVU recorded seven more team blocks than the Redhawks (14-7) in the contest. The Wolverines also held a .293 - .058 hitting advantage on the night.
"We learned a lot from the loss to Idaho the other night," head coach Sam Atoa said. "I was especially proud of the girls in the third set. We had a big lead and it was nice to see our girls continuing to execute and block well. We can't worry about what other teams are doing, we need to just take care of what we can ourselves."
Utah Valley looked strong early in the opening set as it took a quick 6-1 advantage. SU later pulled to within four at 10-6, but UVU reeled off four straight points to take a 14-6 lead. Seattle U later tried to stage a comeback in the set with a 7-1 run of its own to get within four (18-14), but UVU countered back with three unanswered points to pull ahead for good as it took the first set by six points.
Hall reached the 4,000-career assist plateau early in the second game by setting up Wahlin for UVU's second kill of the frame. The set stayed tight, as no team led by more than three points until the Wolverines scored back-to-back points to take an 18-14 advantage. With Utah Valley later holding a 24-20 set-point advantage, the Redhawks drove home two straight kills as well as an ace to pull within one, but Wahlin answered for UVU by drilling home the final kill to give the Wolverines a 2-0 set advantage.
Willden paced UVU in the second set with six kills, while Hall added 14 assists and two blocks. As a team, the Wolverines outhit the Redhawks .294 - .143 in the frame.
Utah Valley controlled the third set, as it opened up a 17-2 lead in the third set thanks to a 16-1 run. Wahlin led the spurt with three aces, while Stringham and Wahlin chipped in three kills apiece. Seattle U closed the gap to 12 at 19-7, but UVU scored six of the final eight points to take the third set by 16 points and complete the sweep.
With the 31 assists, Hall now sits just 35 back of assistant coach Lacee Jones' program record of 4,057.
The reigning WAC Player of the Week Martina Samadan led SU with 12 kills, while Kerry Lane chipped in a match-high-tying 12 digs and 23 assists.
The Wolverines close their five-match home stand as well as their non-conference slate Monday night against Southern Utah. First serve at the PE Building is set for 6 p.m. Following Monday's match with the Thunderbirds, Utah Valley heads to the Midwest to take on WAC foes Kansas City on Nov. 2 and Chicago State on Nov. 4.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.