Fresh off a perfect trip to the East Coast last week that included winning the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational and taking down NC State of the ACC, the Utah Valley University volleyball team returns home to host in-state rival Weber State on Tuesday at 6 p.m., at UVU's Lockhart Arena.
The Wolverines enter the in-state clash having won six-straight matches and seven of their last eight after going a perfect 4-0 last week with wins over fellow in-state foe Utah State, Campbell, Appalachian State and NC State.
UVU enters the contest with an 8-3 record overall after winning a trio of five-set matches in North Carolina last week. After first topping Campbell University of the Big South Conference at Campbell's Gore Arena in Buies Creek on Sept. 6, UVU then traveled to Raleigh for contests against Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference, as well as the host NC State Wolfpack on Sept. 7. The Wolverines too toped both App State and NC State in five sets to earn the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational title with a perfect 3-0 outing. The victory marked UVU's first-ever win over a foe from the Atlantic Coast Conference in program history.
After falling behind two sets to one to both Campbell and App State, UVU managed to rally to win each of its first two matches of the weekend in five sets. Then after holding a 2-1 lead over the NC State Wolfpack on Friday night and dropping the fourth set to set up a decisive fifth game, Utah Valley again responded with a 15-9 fifth-set victory to top the Wolfpack and win the Wolfpack/Camel Invitational.
Sophomore Kristen Allred and junior Jasmine Niutupuivaha earned Wolfpack/Camel Invitational All-Tournament Team honors for Utah Valley last week. The recognition marked Allred's third all-tournament team accolades of the year and Niutupuivaha's first. The Preseason All-WAC honoree Allred had a strong weekend for UVU by averaging 3.27 kills per set on .312 hitting. She also averaged 2.00 digs per set and recorded her second double-double of the year in the win over NC State with a career-high 20 kills and 15 digs. Niutupuivaha also shined for Utah Valley at the Wolfpack/Camel Invite by averaging 1.00 blocks per set and a .407 attack percentage on 28 kills. She too notched a career-high 14 kills on .500 hitting against App State, as well as a career-best eight blocks at Campbell.
Last week's WAC Offensive Player of the Week Kazna Tarawhiti too played well for the Wolverines in the Tar Heel State by averaging 3.87 kills and 1.80 digs. In UVU's upset win over the 2017 NCAA Tournament qualifying Wolfpack, Tarawhiti led the way with a match-high 21 kills and 17 digs for her second double-double of the young season.
The freshman Tarawhiti leads Utah Valley and the WAC in kills with an average of 4.07 kills per set and 167 total kills. Allred is next as she ranks second on the team and in the conference with 145 kills and fifth in the WAC with a 3.45 per set clip. The junior Niutupuivaha fronts UVU and the WAC at the net with a 1.07 blocks per set clip.
During Utah Valley's current six-match win streak, UVU holds wins over NC State, Appalachian State, Campbell, in-state foe Utah State, Long Beach State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
About Weber State
The Wildcats come to town with a 3-3 overall record after having a bye last weekend. WSU holds its three wins on the year over South Dakota State, UW Green Bay and Toledo. Weber State has also suffered setbacks to Notre Dame, Northern Kentucky and WAC foe Seattle U. The Wildcats were picked to finish fifth in the Big Sky this season after going 9-20 overall and 7-9 in league play.
Andrea Hale leads Weber State offensively this season with a 3.39 kills per set average. Megan Gneiting is next with a 2.91 kills per set clip, and Hannah Hill fronts the team at the net with a 1.43 blocks per set average.
All-time series vs. Weber State
Tuesday's contest will mark the 20th all-time meeting between UVU and WSU. Utah Valley enters play holding an 11-8 series lead and having won seven of the last nine meetings. The Wolverines also hold a 7-1 all-time advantage in Orem.
Atoa closing in on 400 wins
After going a perfect 4-0 last week and having won his last six matches, head Utah Valley volleyball coach Sam Atoa now enters the week just two wins shy of recording his 400th career victory. Atoa, who is currently in his 20th season as UVU's head coach, enters the week with a 398-224 career record (.640 winning percentage). Atoa, who earned WAC Coach of the Year honors in 2016, holds a 260-193 mark during his 16 seasons of coaching UVU at the NCAA Division I level, as well as a 138-31 clip during his four seasons of coaching the Wolverines during the school's NJCAA era.
Up next for UVU
Following Tuesday's in-state clash against Weber State, the Wolverines will continue in-state play by heading to Salt Lake City to take on the No. 21 Utah Utes on Friday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., at the Huntsman Center. Friday's contest against the Pac-12 Utes will mark UVU's final non-conference contest of the year, as Utah Valley will begin WAC play on Thursday, Sept. 20, at home against Chicago State.