CEDAR CITY, Utah - The Utah Valley University volleyball team had its four-match win streak snapped Tuesday night in Cedar City as the Wolverines fell to in-state rival Southern Utah University in straight sets (27-25, 25-18, 25-21) at the Centrum Arena.
The win upped SUU's season record to 5-8, while the loss dropped UVU's to 6-5.
"You've got to give Southern Utah credit. They came out and played a lot better than we did," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "We did not execute the way that we have in the last several matches. Debby (Baker) did a nice job coaching and her team (SUU) did a nice job of staying composed. We fell short tonight but we expect to get back into the gym and get better."
In a tightly contested first set, the Wolverines managed to score three-straight points midway through the frame to take a 17-14 lead. Sophomore McKenna Tait sparked the rally with a kill and an ace.
UVU upped its advantage to four points late in the set, at 23-19, following a kill from junior Katie Fritzler but SUU scored four unanswered points to tie the game up at 23-all. The set then went into extra points and the home Thunderbirds came from behind to take opener, 27-25. Analaine Mailoto led SUU with seven kills in the set while Tait paced UVU with four.
In another close set, Southern Utah broke a 14-all tie in the second frame by scoring four-straight points to take an 18-14 advantage. The T-Birds kept the hot hand as they later extended their lead to 22-16 after back-to-back UVU attack errors. The Wolverines pulled to within four, at 22-18, but that was as close the they would get the rest of the frame as SUU took a 2-0 match lead with a seven-point second set victory.
After falling behind 5-2 early on in a must-win third set, UVU rolled off seven of the next eight points to enjoy a 9-6 lead. Freshman Lauren Stringham and junior Brookelyn Hall, the reigning Great West Conference Player of the week, sparked the run as the two teamed up for two block assists. Hall also added three assists during the rally while Stringham had two kills.
SUU later tied the third set score at 10-10, but UVU rallied once again and took a five-point lead at 16-11. The T-Birds answered right back, however with five-consecutive points to tie the frame at 16-all. SUU later took the upper hand with a six-point unanswered run that gave it a late 23-18 advantage. Consecutive kills from Stringham and Hall as well as a SUU attack error made it a two-point game at 23-21, but the Thunderbirds managed to put the match away by scoring the next two points.
Mailoto led SUU with a double-double of 16 kills and 15 digs in the match, while UVU led by Stringham and her eight kills and four block assists. Wolverine junior Patti Hatch also recorded a match-high 19 digs for UVU in the defeat.
The win was SUU's first over UVU since the T-Birds revived their women's volleyball program in 2009. Despite the loss, the Wolverines still lead the all-time series over SUU, 5-1.
Utah Valley will continue its month-long 12-match road stretch by traveling to Bakersfield, Calif., to take part in the Roadrunner Classic this weekend. There the Wolverines will take on Maryland-Eastern Shore on Friday and CSU Bakersfield on Saturday.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com
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