OREM, Utah – The Utah Valley University volleyball team got solid production from sophomore McKenna Tait and senior Erica Nish as it swept Weber State (25-20, 25-12, 25-17) Tuesday night at the PE Building. The match was UVU's 2012 home opener.
"We executed at a higher level tonight than we have so far this season," UVU head volleyball coach Sam Atoa said. "We're not where we need to be but we're getting closer. Erica had a fabulous match and I was real pleased with the effort of our outside hitters, Bailey [Farris] and McKenna, and the way they took care of the ball."
Game one was one of dramatic momentum shifts, as the teams exchanged long rallies early in the first set. A 6-1 run early in the frame saw UVU (2-3) out to a 9-3 lead, highlighted by a pair of service aces from Nish and a kill from Tait. But WSU (2-5) responded with a 7-2 run of its own to pull within one at 11-10.
Four consecutive points – two aces from setter Brookelyn Hall, a kill from Tait and a big block from Nish – from the Wolverines followed, but the Wildcats continued to answer, eventually taking the lead 20-19. With the set beginning to swing, UVU regained serve after a service ace from WSU. Hall and Katie Fritzler combined for a block on the next point, giving way to consecutive kills from Tait to push the late lead to 23-20.
The final momentum swing favored the home team as a kill from Fritzler finished off the first game for the Wolverines, 25-20.
Tait smashed four kills in the opening frame for UVU, followed by three from freshman Bailey Farris. Hall tallied 10 assists, while the trio of Fritzler, Nish and Lauren Stringham combined for six blocks.
UVU remained on the offensive into the second set, running out to a quick 12-4 lead powered by a pair of kills from Farris and Tait. This time the Wolverines would leave no doubt, growing the lead to as many as 15 on their way to a 25-12 second set win. In game two, the Wolverines pieced together runs of 5-0, 5-0, 6-1 and 5-1.
Farris put together a nice set for UVU, notching four kills on six swings, two digs and a block assist. Tait added three more kills while Hall dished out nine assists. The Wolverines hit .368 in the frame, compared to -.192 for WSU.
Faced with a two-game deficit, WSU came out firing to begin the third set. The Wildcats won five of the first six points, getting back-to-back kills from Briana Wilms. The two teams traded points until a 4-0 spurt from UVU, marked by a combined block from Nish and Stringham and a kill from Lindsay Morrell, brought the score back level at 10-10.
The Wolverines finally took the lead for the first time in the set on a WSU attack error. Another visitor attack error followed by a Nish kill capped a 5-0 run that resulted in a 15-12 UVU lead.
The Wildcats hung tight, getting to within one at 17-16, but the Wolverines ended the match on an 8-1 run, sealing the sweep with a 25-17 third set win. Stringham and Nish each tallied a kill and a block assist, while Tait delivered a solo block and the deciding kill to key the critical rally.
Tait's five kills brought her game total to 12, a new career-high. Nish had four kills in the frame, and Hall added 11 assists to give her 30 for the game.
Nish finished the game with eight kills, while Farris tied a season-high with seven. UVU got good production from its middle blockers as Nish and Stringham combined for eight blocks.
UVU will spend the weekend at the Fresno State Classic in Fresno, Calif., and will face three teams from the Golden State. The Wolverines square off with UC Davis Friday at 6 p.m., followed by matches with Sacramento State and host Fresno State Saturday.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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