Marcella Olsen, UVU Athletics
UVU freshman libero Seren Merrill goes for a dig against Seattle University on Saturday. Merrill finished with a team-high 19 digs in the contest.

In a back-and-forth five-set thriller, the Utah Valley University volleyball team dropped a tightly contested match to Seattle U on Saturday afternoon at Lockhart Arena (25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 10-15).

With the loss, UVU falls to 10-13 on the season and 5-3 in WAC play. Seattle improves to 8-13 overall and 4-4 in conference play with the victory.

"I felt like we gave ourselves some chances as far as passing goes, but we just didn't do a very good job taking care of the ball or running our offense," said UVU head coach Sam Atoa. "Our siding out on the matches we won was exactly where we want to be, and we did a nice job on one side of the net as far as our blocking goes. You've got to hand it to them, they did a much better job defensively at the net against us. We just have to get better."

Izzie Hinton and Madison Dennison led the way for Utah Valley in the losing effort with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Dennison also added 10 blocks to her stat line, giving her a double-double for the match, while Hinton matched a career high with six blocks of her own. Sierra Starley registered two service aces and 23 assists, and Seren Merrill led the Wolverines with 19 digs. Katarina Glavinic recorded a match-high 23 kills for Seattle U in the win.

In the opening set, the Wolverines used an early three-point run led by a service ace from Lexi Thompson to take control of the game. Seattle U came within one point at 7-6, but UVU pulled off a 4-1 run to go up 11-8. The Redhawks pulled ahead 18-16 with a 9-3 run of their own, but Utah Valley responded with three-straight points to regain the lead. The two sides battled to 23-22, and the Wolverines got a kill from Alexis Davies and a block from Thompson and Brighton Taylor to clinch the set. Dennison led the way for UVU with five kills and three blocks in the set.

Seattle U jumped out to a two-point lead in the second set, but an attack error by the Redhawks and a kill from Hinton knotted things up at 5-5. With the game tied at 7-7, a Megan Boudreaux kill and Starley service ace ignited a 6-0 run for the Wolverines. Later in the set, SU pulled off a 4-0 run to climb within one and eventually tied the set at 21-21. From there, Seattle U scored four of the set's final five points to even the match at 1-1. Maja Stojanovic and Anna Palmer recorded four kills apiece to lead the Redawks in the set.

With the third game tied at 2-2, Seattle U went on a 3-0 run to grab an early lead. At 11-7, UVU used a series of SU service errors to pull within two, but the Redhawks went on to extend their lead to 15-10. A service ace from Madi Wardle and kill by Dennison helped Utah Valley pull within one point, and Hinton recorded a solo block to even the game at 20-20. Seattle U scored the next two points and Hinton earned a kill and another block on consecutive plays, but the Redhaws went on a set-winning 3-0 run to take the 2-1 set lead in the match.

Hinton started the fourth set strong with two kills to help UVU go up 4-2. Seattle U tied the game at 4-4, and the two teams traded points until the Wolverines jumped out to a 10-7 lead on two service errors from SU and a Dennison block. The Redhawks battled back to take the lead 12-11, and the teams exchanged ties and one-point leads until Seattle U went up 17-15. A kill by Thompson and hitting error from SU tied the game, and the teams again traded points until a Hinton and Dennison block gave UVU a 21-19 advantage. Davies went on to score three-consecutive points for the Wolverines on a kill and two blocks to help Utah Valley win the game and send the match to a decisive fifth set.

The crucial fifth set opened with a 3-0 Seattle U run. Two service errors and a blocking error by Utah Valley hindered the Wolverines' ability to tie things up early in the set. A 6-0 run gave the Redhawks a 13-6 advantage late in the set. UVU countered with a 4-1 run to make it 14-10, but SU finished off the match the very next point on a Katarina Marinkovic kill.

Despite suffering the defeat, Thompson aided the Wolverines with nine kills and 10 digs, and Taylor added six blocks.

The Wolverines return to action against CSU Bakersfield in game two of a three-game homestand at Lockhart Arena on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. MT. The match will be televised on the WAC Digital Network, and live stats can be followed online. UVU closes the homestand on Saturday at 1 p.m., against Grand Canyon.