The Utah Valley University volleyball team fell in straight sets to the University of Wyoming in front of a packed house of 1,286 fans at Evanston High School on Monday afternoon (25-14, 25-13, 25-20).
"Wyoming had a very good opening weekend where they put up some really good numbers, and they showed it again today," head coach Sam Atoa said. "I felt like we were in a position to compete, but we just didn't get ourselves where we needed to be to be the better team.
"We got off to a nice start in that first set, but once they had their run we had a hard time responding. You've got to give Wyoming the credit, they came to play and we've got a lot to learn."
The Wolverines (0-4) stayed right with the Cowgirls (4-0) for the first half of the opening set as UVU held a 13-12 advantage midway through the frame. Wyoming then fed off the capacity crowd as it pieced together a 13-1 run to take the opening set, 25-14.
UW then picked up right where it left off in the early stages of the second set as it jumped out to a 9-1 advantage. Utah Valley tried to stage a second-frame comeback, but the deficit was too large to overcome as Wyoming took the set by 12 points.
After the intermission, UVU answered back as it took an early 9-4 lead in the third set. Junior Lauren Bakker led the Wolverine run with a trio of kills and a block. The Cowgirls quickly struck back, however, as they managed to tie the frame at 16-all. UW controlled the set from there as it finished off the match with a 25-20 third-set victory.
Despite the loss, Bakker led the Wolverines with 11 kills. Sophomore Nakisha Willden was next with seven.
Senior Erin Kirby paced UW with 11 kills and an astonishing .917 attack percentage (11-for-12). The match was played at the neutral site location in part as a homecoming for Kirby, as she hails from Evanston.
With the UW victory, the Cowgirls have evened up the all-time series between the two programs at 2-2.
The Wolverines now return home to Utah County to take part at the BYU Invitational this weekend. UVU will face two more ranked foes, as it will take on UMBC on Friday afternoon and No. 4 Washington and No. 9 BYU on Saturday.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.