The Utah Valley University volleyball team had its final road trip of the regular season come to a close with a 3-0 setback to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Saturday afternoon at the UTRGV Fieldhouse in Edinburg, Texas (19-25, 24-26, 19-25).
With the setback, the Wolverines drop to 12-15 overall and into fourth place in the WAC standings with a 7-5 conference clip, while the Vaqueros (15-10, 9-3 WAC) move into sole possession of second place in the standings and just one game back of first-place New Mexico State (19-7, 10-2 WAC). With a win on Friday, CSU Bakersfield (15-12) now holds down the third spot in the league standings with an 8-4 league mark.
"I'm very disappointed. We are a much better team than we've been playing as of late," said UVU head coach Sam Atoa. "Somehow we are not kind of figuring things out. We've got to get better, and it starts with me. We'll get back and try to figure some things out; because we are a good team, but we are just not performing at a consistent level that is needed to win."
Despite suffering the defeat, Lexi Thompson paced the Wolverines with a double-double of 13 kills and 15 digs. She also added a solid .310 hitting percentage, while Kristen Allred and Megan Boudreaux were next with 11 and seven respective kills. Setter Sierra Starley too added a double-double of her own by dishing out 30 assists and collecting 10 digs.
UTRGV got off to a strong start in the opening set by jumping out to an early 10-5 lead. The Wolverines then scored five of the next seven points to make it a two-point deficit at 12-10. But back answered the Vaqueros by reeling off a 7-1 run to take a 19-11 advantage. Following four late kills from Thompson, UVU later pulled to within five at 22-17, but back answered the Vaqueros to put the first set away by a score of 25-19.
UT Rio Grande Valley once again held the upper hand in the early stages of the second set, as it built an early 7-3 lead. The Wolverines then bounced right back, however, with four unanswered points to deadlock the score at 7-all. Boudreaux led the UVU rally with a block and a kill. The set then stayed tight from there as no team led by more than two points the rest of the way. Following a pair of kills from Thompson and another from the freshman Allred, the Wolverines took a late 20-18 lead. But Bojana Mitrovic struck right back for UTRGV with consecutive kills to tie the score at 20-20. With the score once again tied at 24-all following a clutch kill from Allred, UT Rio Grande Valley's Barbara Silva delivered back-to-back key kills to give the Vaqueros the set, 26-24, and a 2-0 lead in the match.
UTRGV once again doubled the Wolverines up early in the third game, as it built a quick 8-4 advantage. Utah Valley countered back with a 4-1 run to pull within one at 9-8. Later trailing by two, 12-10, the Vaqueros managed to reel off a key 6-1 run to take an 18-11 advantage. Facing a 24-16 match-point deficit, UVU then scored a trio of consecutive points, but it wasn't enough as UTRGV put the match away at 25-19 on a block assist from Ragni Steen Knudsen and Alexandra Ecker.
Silva paced the Vaqueros with a match-high 17 kills, while Mitrovic added a double-double of 14 kills and a match-best 21 digs.
The win for UTRGV marked its first-ever season sweep over the Wolverines and upped its 2017 home record to an unblemished 10-0.
UVU now returns home for its final two matches of the regular season. The Wolverines will first host UMKC (9-16, 5-7 WAC) on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., for Senior Night, before capping the regular season with a Saturday matinee match against Chicago State (10-19, 1-11 WAC). The WAC Tournament will then be held the following week, Nov. 16-18, back at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.