The Utah Valley University volleyball team concluded its opening weekend with a 3-1 loss to Lipscomb on Saturday morning at the Kansas Invitational (23-25, 25-23, 17-25, 15-25). The Wolverines (0-3) look to rebound Monday afternoon against Wyoming at Evanston High School in Evanston, Wyoming.
"I was very pleased with our effort today. We worked hard, but were beat by a better team," head coach Sam Atoa said. "We challenged ourselves throughout the entire match but couldn't capitalize on a number of opportunities that were presented in front of us on a consistent basis. Still, we had some bright moments and I was pleased with how the girls competed and played. But there are a few things that we need to get better at before we can win those close sets and matches."
Despite suffering the defeat, junior middle blocker Lauren Bakker - who was recently tabbed the WAC's Preseason Player of the Year - had a big game with 13 kills, eight blocks and a .357 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Macky Treanor too played well for UVU as she recorded a team-high 14 kills and a .270 attack percentage.
With the first set all knotted up at 16-16, LU capitalized on a couple of Wolverine miscues to take an 18-16 advantage. UVU later pulled to within a point on a couple of occasions, including 24-23 following a kill from Treanor, but the Lady Bisons (2-1) put the set away the very next point on a kill of their own from Sophie Kellerman.
UVU used a 5-0 spurt in the early stages of the second frame to take an 8-3 lead. Senior Kalani Norris sparked the rally with a pair of aces while Bakker added a kill and a block. Lipscomb answered, however, with a run of its own to later tie the score at 11-all. The set remained tight from there as both teams virtually traded points the rest of the way.
With UVU trailing 23-22 late in the second frame, the Wolverines scored three unanswered points to take the set by a score of 25-23. Senior Cassie Wahlin drove home a clutch kill during the final stretch, and Bakker and sophomore Kiahna Steiner put the set away with a block assist.
Treanor led the Wolverine attack in the set with five kills, while Bakker added six blocks and a trio of kills.
The Lady Bisons answered back in the third set, however, as they pulled ahead midway through the frame at 15-10. UVU cut it to two, at 17-15, but it couldn't manage to get any closer as LU took a 2-1 set advantage by taking the frame, 25-17.
In the fourth set, Lipscomb used a 6-1 run to jump out to a 15-8 lead. LU controlled the tempo from there and put the match away with a 25-15 fourth-set victory.
Behind Treanor and Bakker's solid matches, freshman setter Sierra Starley also put up a good outing with 36 assists, while senior libero McKenna Tait led the Wolverines from the back row with 20 digs and a pair of service aces.
Lauren Ford led Lipscomb with 15 kills. Brittnay Estes and Molly Spitznagle too topped double digits in kills as they recorded 10 apiece.
The Lady Bisons, who were recently picked to win the Atlantic Sun Conference in the league's preseason, have made four NCAA Tournament appearances in the past six seasons. LU also defeated the ranked Kansas Jayhawks at the Invitational as well.
The Wolverines finished the opening-season tournament with a 0-3 record as they also dropped a pair of matches to two ranked foes earlier at the Invitational. UVU fell in straight sets to No. 22 Kansas and No. 23 Creighton on Friday.
Following Monday's 4 p.m. matinee versus Wyoming in Evanston, UVU heads to nearby Provo to face UMBC, No. 4 Washington and No. 9 BYU next weekend.
"We have a quick turnaround to Monday's match, but we'll get back on the bus and be ready to head to Evanston that morning," Atoa said. "We expect to be able to improve in a number of areas that didn't do too well in and we're looking forward to the matchup against Wyoming."
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.