OREM — The Utah Valley University volleyball team will step out of Western Athletic Conference play for the first time in nearly a month to face Utah State on Tuesday in Logan. The in-state rivalry contest will take place at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 7 p.m. The Wolverines, who have won nine of their last 11 matches, will be looking to defeat USU for the fourth straight time Tuesday. In last year's meeting, UVU topped the 2012 WAC Champion Aggies in Logan in dramatic come-from-behind fashion (17-25, 19-25, 27-25, 26-24, 15-12) on the very day it announced that it would be joining the WAC.
Junior outside hitter Kalani Norris led the Wolverines in last year's match against the Aggies with 15 kills, while sophomore Lauren Stringham added 12 kills, an impressive .632 attack percentage and seven blocks. Senior Katie Fritzler also chipped in 11 kills, while fellow senior Brookelyn Hall dished out a career-high 65 assists as UVU overcame a 0-2 deficit to defeat Utah State.
Utah Valley is 11-10 overall this season and currently sits in second place in the WAC with a 5-2 league record. UVU will enter Tuesday's match off a 1-1 outing on the road last week. The Wolverines opened the trip by falling in three sets to Bakersfield on Thursday (21-25, 18-25, 17-25) but bounced back Saturday by defeating Grand Canyon in straight sets (25-12, 25-14, 25-22). Stringham led UVU in the two matches with 17 kills and six blocks, while Norris chipped in 16.
On the season, Norris leads the Wolverines in kills with 220, while freshman Macky Treanor is tops in kill per set average (3.46) and Stringham leads in attack percentage (.285). Stringham also paces the team in blocks with her 1.17 block per set average, while Hall is tops in assists with 9.26 per set. Junior McKenna Tait not only leads UVU and the entire WAC in service aces with 35, but her 0.45 ace per set average is good enough for 24th in the nation.
As a team, the Wolverines rank third in the WAC in hitting (.209), blocks (2.26 per set) and service aces (1.27 per set).
About Utah State
The Aggies are 10-7 overall and in sixth place in their inaugural season of play in the Mountain West Conference with a 4-3 record. USU will enter Tuesday's match on the heels of a 3-1 victory over Wyoming on Saturday in Laramie. Despite picking up the win over the Cowgirls in their last contest, the Aggies had dropped their previous two matches — a four-set defeat at No. 13 Colorado State last Thursday and a three-set loss to New Mexico at home on Oct. 3.
Utah State, which was picked to finish fourth in the MW this season, is led offensively by 2012 All-WAC performer Rachel Orr and her 3.38 kill per set average. Alyssa Everett leads the Aggies at the net with a 1.26 block per set average while Paige Neves, who was also named All-WAC last season, is tops in assists with an average of 10.02 per set.
Tuesday will mark the 11th all-time meeting between UVU and Utah State with the series currently deadlocked at 5-5. The contest will also be Utah Valley's fourth of five in-state matches this season. The Wolverines will close their 2013 slate against in-state foes on Oct. 28 when Southern Utah visits Orem.
Up next for the Wolverines
UVU will return home to begin a five-match home stand against WAC foes this weekend. The Wolverines will first welcome Texas-Pan American to the PE Building on Thursday and will close the week against first-place New Mexico State on Saturday. Both matches will take place at 7 p.m.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.