For the 19th time in 21 tries, the Utah Valley University volleyball team defeated Chicago State in straight sets on Thursday evening at CSU's Jacoby Dickens Center in Chicago (25-22, 25-22, 25-19).
With the victory, the Wolverines improve to 9-12 on the season and 4-2 in WAC play, while the Cougars drop to 10-12 overall and 1-5 in league matches with the setback.
"The girls played well. I'm proud of them for coming in and executing tonight," head UVU coach Sam Atoa said. "Any time you hit .289, as a team, that is great. Overall I'm happy with our performance."
Lexi Thompson paced the Wolverines offensively with 14 kills, while Kristen Allred added eight and Madison Dennison chipped in six. Dennison, who currently leads the nation in blocks, also recorded a match-high five blocks, while Sierra Starley and Seren Merrill led the way in assists and digs with 27 and 13, respectively.
"Lexi did a nice job of hitting for us," Atoa said. "We fell short on a few goals that we set tonight, but I was pleased with our sideout percentage, our hitting percentage and our blocking. Those were three areas of focus that we did a nice job at."
The Wolverines were the first to break through in the opening set, as they jumped out to a 10-6 advantage following a 6-1 run. The Cougars later evened the score at 13-13, but back responded Utah Valley by scoring six of the next eight points to take a 19-15 lead. With UVU later holding to a 24-19 set-point advantage, CSU answered with back-to-back-to-back points to pull within two at 24-22. It wasn't enough, though, as the Wolverines closed the set at 25-22 on a Thompson kill. The freshman Allred paced the UVU attack in the opening set with five kills.
In a tightly contested second set that featured 12 ties and seven lead changes, the Cougars were the first to pull ahead at 14-10 following a 6-2 spurt. The Wolverines later responded with a 6-2 run of their own to take an 18-17 advantage. Dennison led the UVU spurt with a block and a kill. With the score later knotted up at 21-21, Utah Valley reeled off a clutch 4-1 run to take the second set by a score of 25-22. Following a kill from Allred and a solo block from Dennison, Alexis Davies capped the key spurt with a service ace.
The Wolverines then once again pulled ahead early in the third game, at 11-7, following back-to-back block assists from Dennison and Davies. CSU then countered back to tie the score at 13-all, but back answered UVU with a 5-1 run to take an 18-14 lead. With Chicago State back to within three, at 20-17, Utah Valley then drove home three-straight key points to take a late 23-17 advantage. The Wolverines then put the match away a few points later on the first collegiate kill from redshirt freshman Bailey Nixon.
As a team, UVU outhit CSU, .289 to .126, as well as outblocked the Cougars, 8.0 to 3.0.
Provo, Utah native and Timpview High School graduate Lauryn Dela Cruz paced Chicago State with a match-high 16 kills.
The contest not only marked UVU's 19th sweep in 21 tries against CSU but also its 21st consecutive victory as the Wolverines now hold a perfect 21-0 all-time record against the Cougars.
The Wolverines conclude their current two-match Midwest road trip with a WAC contest at UMKC on Saturday. First serve is set for 12 p.m. MT, at Kansas City's Swinney Recreation Center. Following Saturday's matchup, UVU will return home to host league foe Seattle U on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.