LOGAN, Utah - Utah Valley University came back from an 0-2 deficit at in-state rival Utah State University Tuesday night to defeat the Aggies 3-2 (17-25, 19-25, 27-25, 26-24, 15-12). The win was the Wolverines' (10-7, 2-0 Great West) third straight and third consecutive against the first-place Aggies (12-6, 7-1 WAC).
The match also concluded UVU's five-week-long 12-match road stretch. The Wolverines, who announced earlier in the day that they will be joining the WAC on July 1, 2013, went 8-4 during their time away from home.
"This was a great win. We had a great team effort tonight and I was very pleased that the girls were able to stay composed and execute," UVU head coach Sam Atoa said. "We were outplayed in the first two sets but the girls were determined to turn things around. We're a pretty good team when the girls take matters into their own hands."
UVU finished with a season-high five players in double figures in kills. Leading the way was sophomore Kalani Norris with 15. Senior Erica Nish and freshman Bailey Farris each recorded 13, freshman Lauren Stringham had 12 and junior Katie Fritzler added 11. Stringham also did not commit an attack error as she hit an impressive .632 and led the Wolverines at the net with seven block assists. Norris and Farris also hit well as Norris finished with a .357 attack percentage and Farris hit a solid .320. Junior Brookelyn Hall too had a big match by recording a career-high 65 assists and six block assists.
Utah State jumped out to an early five-point lead in the opening set, but UVU cut the deficit to one (14-13) on a kill from Norris. The Aggies answered by scoring six of the next seven points to take a late 20-14 advantage. USU went on to take the opener 25-17. The Aggies once again jumped out to an early lead in the second set, as they took a 9-3 advantage after a block from Paige Neves and Kaitlyn VanHoff. The Wolverines then chipped away at the USU lead and got within one at 14-13 midway through the frame. A couple of points later Utah State pieced together a 5-0 run, which helped it to a 25-19 second set victory.
Norris helped the Wolverines take a 9-8 lead in the must-win third frame after she drilled home five kills early on in the set. The scoring went back-and-forth from there as no team led by more than one until UVU took a 19-17 lead after a kill from Farris.
Later in the third set, an ace from Nish and a kill from Stringham gave the Wolverines a 23-20 advantage, but the Aggies countered back by scoring the next three points to tie it at 23-all. Each team traded points from there as the frame headed for extra points with score knotted at 25-25. UVU would take the set at 27-25 after a kill from Fritzler and one from Farris to force a fourth game.
The fourth set remained close from the get-go as no team led by more than two until the Aggies managed to work an 18-15 lead. A kill by Fritzler on the next point cut it back to two, but USU would score the next two points to take a late 20-16 advantage. Consecutive block assists by Hall and Stringham helped pull UVU within one, at 22-21, but USU would score two of the next three points to take a 24-22 set-point advantage.
UVU would battle back in the fourth with a gutsy four-point run to win the fourth frame 26-24. Junior Lindsay Morrell started the Wolverine rally with a kill, while Nish had a kill and Hall recorded an ace and a kill of her own. Stringham led UVU with five kills and three blocks in the set, while Hall had three blocks, two aces and 16 assists.
The Aggies jumped out to a quick 4-1 advantage in the decisive fifth set, but UVU responded with four unanswered points to take a 5-4 lead. Stringham and Nish sparked the run as Stringham had two kills, Nish had one and they both teamed up for a block assist. After a USU point tied it up, the Wolverines scored the next four points to take a 9-5 advantage. The Aggies answered with the next three points to pull within one at 9-8.
Utah State later tied the fifth frame at 12-all after a kill from Shay Sorensen. The Wolverines would respond with consecutive kills from Norris and Farris to give UVU a 14-12 match-point advantage. The Wolverines completed the comeback and put the match away the very next point on an Aggie attack error.
The match was UVU's fourth against in-state opponents this year. The Wolverines are now 2-2 against in-state teams with one more against BYU to come in Provo on Nov. 20.
"This has been an exciting day. It was a great day for us to be able to get an invitation into the WAC and for us to come and play the number one team in that conference too," Atoa said. "This is where our future is. Anytime you can beat an in-state team, it's a great win."
Sorensen led Utah State with a match-high 22 kills. She also added 10 digs for a double-double.
UVU will now return home for the first time in over a month to take on conference foe NJIT Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wolverines will put their 13-match home win streak on the line in that contest.
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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